Hucknall set to become part of Nottingham as part of political overhaul

HUCKNALL is set to be placed within Nottingham, and alongside Bulwell, as part of shock proposals to radically change the boundaries of Parliamentary constituencies.

In the biggest political shake-up for a generation, a new constituency would be created called Nottingham North and Hucknall.

Also part of the constituency would be the Dispatch district villages of Newstead, Papplewick, Linby and Bestwood — as well as affluent areas such as Ravenshead.

It was thought that Hucknall might switch to the Ashfield constituency, to tie in with the town’s district council affiliation. But the Ashfield boundaries, which include Annesley, remain unchanged under the plans.

The overall aim of the controversial scheme, which was unveiled by the Boundary Commission this week, is to ‘equalise’ the number of voters represented by each MP.

It would also mean a reduction in the overall number of MPs nationwide — from 650 to 600. The aim is to introduce the changes by the next General Election, which is scheduled for 2015.

Hucknall and the Dispatch district villages currently sit in the Sherwood constituency, which is represented by Conservative MP Mark Spencer.

Bulwell is already part of Nottingham North, which is a Labour stronghold represented by Graham Allen for the last 24 years.

Mr Allen is furiously against the shake-up. He blasted: “If dictator Robert Mugabe was doing this, everyone would be outraged”. He pledged to launch a fight against the proposals.

Mr Spencer won Hucknall’s Sherwood seat at last year’s General Election after 18 years of Labour dominance in the hands of Paddy Tipping.

The Conservative MP admitted he was “shellshocked” by the plans, which he described as “very radical”.

“I am obviously disappointed by a proposal to push Hucknall out of my Sherwood constituency,” said Mr Spencer.

“It is difficult to be objective because you develop a loyalty to your own patch, so clearly I am going to say Hucknall should not go into the city. It is such a big shake-up.”

A consultation into the proposals has now been launched by the government.

When the idea of changing electoral boundaries first came about, it was suggested Mr Spencer could lose his job. But if plans progress, he is likely to have to choose where he stands because his office is based in Hucknall.

Hucknall is no stranger to being moved around amid political changes.

It was part of North Nottingham, alongside Bulwell, until the mid-1960s when it was transferred to the Ashfield constituency.

Then in 1983 it became part of the newly-created Sherwood constituency.

However Sherwood embraces only 72,000 voters, and the government wants the average for each constituency to be about 76,000.

“I honestly didn’t think Hucknall would be pushed out of Sherwood,” said Mr Spencer. “I thought it would go into Ashfield to tie in with local council boundaries.

“None of this is final. I am still Hucknall and Sherwood’s MP and that’s what I’ve got to focus on for the sake of voters.”

Mr Allen added: “There are long-established ties between communities that previous changes have taken into consideration. But that has been thrown overboard and they are putting together mathematically-based constituencies.

“We are going to fight these proposals and ask that people in communities are listened to. This is gerrymandering for political gain.

“I have great affection for people in Bulwell and Hucknall and I will get on with the job whatever happens. But our starting point is that we are going to campaign against this.”