Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council ward boundary changes gave Conservatives edge, say former Liberal Democrat councillors
TWO Liberal Democrat councillors who lost their seats in the borough council elections have said ward boundary changes in the borough gave them an uphill struggle.
Warwick Lovegrove and Mike Bound were the two ward members for Baughurst and Tadley North, which was absorbed into the much larger Tadley North, Kingsclere and Baughurst ward, featuring rural villages like Kingsclere, Headley, Ashford Hill and Hannington.
The wards were changed after a review by the Local Government Boundary Commission, which aims to ensure each councillor represents roughly the same number of voters.
Mr Lovegrove opted to stand in the new Tadley North, Kingsclere & Baughurst ward and finished fourth behind the three Conservatives: Ken Rhatigan, Stuart Frost and Geoff Poland.
Mr Rhatigan and Mr Frost were previously councillors for Kingsclere and Oakley & North Waltham respectively, while this was Mr Poland’s first election to the council.
Mr Bound stood in the new Tadley & Pamber Ward, which encompassed the old Tadley Central and Tadley South wards, as well as Pamber Heath.
He finished fifth behind fellow Liberal Democrat candidate Jo Slimin and the three elected Conservatives: David Leeks, Kerri Carruthers and Derek Mellor.
Mr Leeks and Mrs Carruthers were previously councillors for Tadley South, while Mr Mellor is also Hampshire County Councillor for Tadley & Baughurst.
Mr Lovegrove, who has been in local politics since 1982, said the ward changes hadn’t helped the Liberal Democrats’ cause.
He said: “Our vote obviously went down because we were given areas where we weren’t so strong, where the Liberal Democrats hadn’t traditionally had a strong vote.
“These are areas where we haven’t established as our own.
“Hannington is right out in the sticks, and there’s all the rural hamlets. It’s a vast area.
“We were disappointed with the amount we lost by – between 400 and 600 votes.
“That’s quite a gap we’ve got to climb next time.”
Mr Bound, who had been a borough councillor since 2008, said: “Certainly the change to the ward boundaries made a huge difference.
“If you take Tadley North, it was a fairly closely contested seat previously without Kingsclere, Headley, Ashford Hill, Hannington being added, and they’re predominantly Conservative areas.
“I think Warwick did pretty well to get over 1,000 votes.
“Obviously we’re disappointed to not have got one of those seats but we will live to fight another day.”
Both Mr Lovegrove and Mr Bound said they were considering standing next year when a third of the seats – the seat with the lowest number of votes in each ward – come up for re-election.
Mr Bound said: “It’s possible I’ll stand – it depends on the branch.
“We have a couple of new members, they’re particularly keen and younger than I am.
“I think we need to encourage younger people to be taking the reins, so we’ll see in the future.”
Mr Lovegrove said: “I haven’t retired from politics is the answer to that one.”