Sat, 24 Sept 2016
PARISHES in West Berkshire faced with being transferred from the Newbury constituency and into Wokingham are clear that they want to stay.
Last week the Newbury Weekly News reported on proposals being put forward by the Boundary Commission to move Aldermaston ward from the Newbury constituency to Wokingham.
The ward, which covers approximately 1,295 households in Aldermaston, Brimpton, Midgham, Wasing and Woolhampton, could be moved under proposals to reduce the number of MPs from 650 to 600 and to even out the number of electors.
Last week, Newbury MP Richard Benyon said he would be “gutted” to lose Aldermaston ward; and it seems that parish councillors agree.
Brimpton Parish Council chairman Charles Brims said that the village would be very disappointed to leave Newbury.
Mr Brims said villagers had closer ties to Newbury than Wokingham and that Brimpton was already served by an “excellent” MP.
“We like being part of Newbury. We understand Newbury and Newbury understands us. I very much doubt that anyone in Wokingham knows where Brimpton is and we have different needs and an outlook on life.
“Currently we have an excellent constituency MP in Richard Benyon. He lives locally and understands local issues. We have a very good MP and we would be disappointed to lose him as our MP.”
Mr Brims, a former High Sheriff of Berkshire, said that he understood the problems faced by the Boundary Commission, which he said could result in equal numbers of constituents, but result in “geographical nonsense”.
Aldermaston Parish Council vice chairman Clive Vare said that the parish council was gauging local opinion on the proposals, but suspected that there would be opposition.
“We have had good service from MPs in Newbury going back to David Rendel’s time,” he said. “We’ve always felt included and I can’t see that being the case if we go to Wokingham.
“Unfortunately, I feel we may have a fight on our hands if we want to stay, as the powers that be want to even-up constituencies.”
However, the chairman of Woolhampton Parish Council, Tony Renouf, said having analysed the arithmetic, they have come up with a sufficient solution to the problem.
“I’m not happy with the idea of moving because it’s unsettling. Having said that, it’s going to be very difficult to argue against if the numbers add up, especially on emotional ties.”
He said that each parish in the ward would need to discuss the proposals and try and come up with a viable solution.
The consultation on the proposals runs for 12 weeks, until December 5, and can be found on www.bce2018.org.uk
The commission will make its report and recommendations in September 2018.