I am responding on behalf of the Confederation of South East Green Parties. It is a region of the Green Party (of England and Wales). We have been in touch with all the local Green Parties in SE England. Some of them will be making detailed comments on the initial proposals. This comment summarises the main points and notes advantages and problems over larger areas.

We strongly approve of the splitting of the Isle of Wight into two constituencies and the addition of new constituencies in SE England reflecting the increased population here. Most of the new constituencies have been drawn with sensible boundaries producing compact and homogenous areas like the Weald of Kent CC and the Bicester CC. Some of the current constituencies have nearly 100,000 electors.

Given the legislation you have to follow, that is not too bad. Of course, it would be better and fairer to draw up constituencies as in Ireland, where voters elect 3 to 5 TDs to represent them in an STV ballot, so better reflecting the preferences of all voters.

However we have noticed problems in two areas: east Surrey and
the south coast of West Sussex.

West Sussex south coast

There is a natural geographic barrier created by the South Downs. Most people live in coastal communities to the south of the downs or in rural areas to the north. Few live on top of the downs and few travel regularly north-south across the South Downs. People in coastal communities travel along the coast, go to neighbouring towns along the coast and get services from councils along the coast.

Those factors are reflected in the current constituencies from Bognor to Brighton. But the initial proposals create two constituencies that cross the South Downs, linking coastal settlements with large inland areas, namely Shoreham CC and Arundel and Littlehampton CC.

There are alternative models that only make small changes to existing constituencies yet achieve the required elector numbers. One such is attached as SouthCoast.csv and illustrated in SouthCoast.png.

Shoreham CC

Take the proposed Shoreham CC. It cuts across the natural boundary of the South Downs, creating a large oddly shaped constituency.

Access from one part of the constituency to another is sufficiently difficult that few people travel from Pulborough to Shoreham. By train they have to go via Barnham or Gatwick. By bus they have to go via Worthing and Washington. Either journey takes over an hour. People in Shoreham regularly travel to Worthing or Brighton, not inland. There are no rail links within the proposed area apart from coastal. Bus services are again focused on the coastal east west corridor. The frequency of services and the volume of road trips on existing east west routes are far greater than any within the proposed constituency.

The proposed Shoreham CC combines quite different local authorities: coastal developed Adur with a large chunk of rural Horsham inland. It breaks the ties between Adur and Worthing, and between Arundel and rural areas around the South Downs.

The shape of the proposed constituency is elongated and stretches far to the west of the main population concentration. This would create inconveniences in administering elections - particularly when Government policy is to reduce car travel and make more use of public transport to decarbonise the economy. This is not a political point, but a scientific one. Without stopping the consumption of fossil fuels in 10 to 15 years, the constituencies will become unlivable. Climate change is now a criterion to consider in all decisions.

There is a strong case for maintaining the current East Worthing and Shoreham CC, which has an electorate that falls within the limits.

Chichester CC

To the west, Chichester does have links with areas inland and north-south connections are used. However, there is a particular problem with the Manhood peninsula around Selsey. It is surrounded on 3 sides by water, forming a strong geographical and psychological boundary. To travel to Bognor Regis you either have to sail or go almost into Chichester. To make a journey to Bognor even theoretically possible within one constituency, the proposal takes 3 villages on the outskirts of Chichester (Hunston, Mundham and Runcton), part of the Chichester South county council division and tries to associate them with Bognor Regis. But few travel to Bognor from Selsey. The natural connection is with Chichester.

Villages south of Chichester have a common identity as constituent parts of a peninsula with shared geography, landscape and threats (e.g. flooding). The villages are part of the Manhood Peninsula Partnership ( https://peninsulapartnership.org.uk/ ), the Manhood Peninsula Action Group ( https://www.manhoodpag.co.uk/ ), and the Manhood Wildlife and Heritage Group (https://www.mwhg.org.uk/ ). It would not make sense to carve up the area by taking the eastern area and putting it into a parliamentary constituency shared with Bognor Regis, a town that the area has no strong links with.

Rather than removing wards from the current Chichester CC to Bognor Regis, it would be better to remove wards from the north of the constituency (Fernhurst, Easebourne, and Loxwood), making a more compact area that is easier to administer.

East Surrey

We support the detailed alternative proposals from councillor
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for the constituencies covering Tandridge, Reigate and Banstead, Mole Valley, and Epsom and Ewell (collectively referred to us East Surrey). They are based on considering the natural boundaries of the North Downs and the M25; the urban areas of Redhill-Reigate, Horley, Leatherhead-Ashtead and Dorking; where people go for shopping and council services; and minimising the number of MPs representing a council.

In summary this would create the following constituencies.

Tandridge, made up of the wards in Tandridge council plus Hooley, Merstham and Netherne from the NE extremity of Reigate and Banstead council.

Epsom and Ewell, made up of Epson and Ewell council wards plus Nork and Banstead village at the north of Reigate and Banstead council.

Mole Valley, made up of wards in Mole Valley council plus Lower Kingswood, Tadworth and Walton from Reigate and Banstead council.

Reigate and Banstead, made up of the remaining wards in Reigate and Banstead council.

Find attached EastSurrey.csv listing the alternative proposal wards and a map in EastSurreyAlternatives.png

David Newman, Elections Co-ordinator of the South East Green Party on behalf of the committee of the Confederation of South East Green Parties. I acknowledge the help and input from committee members
REDACTED
and
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and officers of local Green parties across SE England.

Type of respondent

Official response from the Green party

Personal details

David Newman
Oxford

Comment type