Shock as council votes in favour of move to split up Hucknall

Shockwaves will be felt after a proposal to carve up Hucknall as part of a boundary review was backed at a meeting of Ashfield District Council on Thursday night.

Friday, 30th July 2021, 8:24 am

The Boundary Commission for England (BCE) is consulting on proposals for new Parliamentary constituencies.

Under current proposals, all of Hucknall would remain part of the Sherwood constituency.

But, under alternative proposals tabled at the council meeting, the Hucknall West ward would become part of the new Ashfield constituency, which currently includes the rest of the district and is represented by Conservative MP Lee Anderson.

Could Hucknall be split across two political constituencies in the future? Photo: Robin Macey

The remainder of Hucknall would remain in Sherwood, which is currently represented by Conservative Mark Spencer in Parliament.

Before councillors made their decisions at the meeting, there was a vote on whether the vote should be recorded. This was passed by just one (15-14 with three abstaining).

In the vote on whether to back this alternative proposal, this was passed by 23 votes to ten.

Of the Hucknall councillors, voting against the controversial plan were Labour duo Couns Keir Morrison and Lauren Mitchell, Ash Independents Couns John Wilmott, Jim Blagden, Trevor Locke, Dave Shaw and Lee Waters, and Conservative father and son Kevin and Phil Rostance.

However, Coun Chris Baron (Con), who represents the ward most affected, Hucknall West, voted in favour.

The only non-Hucknall councillor to vote against the idea was Independent Coun Melanie Darrington, who represents Skegby.

Papers for the meeting said: “As the bypass in Hucknall provides for a natural divide between Hucknall West and the remaining wards of Hucknall, placing Hucknall West into the Ashfield constituency would not divide a community or cause electors confusion."

Although this has received overall backing from Ashfield Council it is still an ‘alternative’ proposal that will now be submitted to the Boundary Commission.

Ultimately the BCE will make the final decision, taking into consideration representations from the public and other bodies, before revealing full plans for 2023.

Already the likes of current Hucknall (Sherwood) MP Mark Spencer and Ashfield Labour councillors have had their say.

Ahead of the meeting, Mr Spencer said: “This is absolutely typical of the Ashfield Independents, first they ignore Hucknall for years, then claim that it is being split up and sold off to the city, all of which was absolutely false.

"Now they are the ones seeking to divide the community, by drawing a big red line straight down the middle.

“We have to fight to keep Hucknall together, we cannot have our town broken up by the Ashfield Independents.”

On the Hucknall Labour website, Coun Lauren Mitchell said: “It is my belief that Hucknall should always be kept together and not split up – something Hucknall Labour has argued for over a number of years through our ‘Keep Hucknall Unique’ and ‘Hands Off Hucknall’ campaigns.”

Coun Jason Zadrozny, council leader, said: “The Conservatives are currently holding a boundary review in a gerrymandering-style attempt to increase their already large majority.

"As part of this process each council, indeed anybody is invited to take part in the consultation.

"The proposals are at the first stage and I must make it clear that they are being submitted to start a conversation.

"Any decision will not be made for two years and in that time there will several public consultations and public hearings which the Government has to do to satisfy the Representations of the People’s Act.

“We have held cross-party meetings and that is where the initial proposal came from.

"The bypass provides a natural divide between Hucknall West and the rest of Hucknall.

"The initial proposal suggests that 4,500 houses in Mansfield, that the Government wants to move into Ashfield, stay in Mansfield.

"Not doing so would split a community whereas the proposal to move Hucknall West into Ashfield makes perfect sense.

"This is a proposal that has the support of senior council members and officers at Mansfield District Council.

“Government proposals for our areas would also be less equal.

"Moving Hucknall West into Ashfield would be more equal.

"I suspect that voters in Hucknall West would be pleased to see their area moved as the service they have received is less than a Rolls-Royce from Mark Spencer.”