Bonkers boundaries: Hempsted enters the Forest of Dean
VOTERS in Hempsted are the biggest losers in Gloucestershire's political boundary shake-up as it becomes the sacrificial lamb to keep Westgate in the city's constituency.
Boundary bosses were forced into a U-turn after political parties united to save Gloucester city centre from being swallowed up by the Forest of Dean.
The carve-up of wards aims to reduce Westminster seats by 50 down to 600, but the changes won't effect local council representation for Hempsted residents.
News of Westgate remaining within the Gloucester seat has been widely welcomed, although the decision has come at a price with Hempsted being part of the new West Gloucestershire seat under the revised plans.
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A major campaign was launched against the initial proposals.
City council leader Paul James said: "I am pleased, but disappointed that people in Hempsted will not be part of the constituency.
"MP Richard Graham did a great job in getting the boundary commission to change its mind, but losing Hempsted was the price we had to pay for the rest of Westgate and the city – it was the least worst option, but a real coup. This is the best result for Gloucester."
The report by the Boundaries Commission stated only 'exceptional and compelling circumstances' would allow for wards to be split. Conservative city and county councillor Pam Tracey, who represents Westgate and Hempsted, called the whole review process 'diabolical'.
"Although we must thank those who have campaigned to stop the changes, I feel sorry for the people of Hempsted. This could put even more off voting in future," she said.
Under the review, the villages of Sandhurst, Norton, Twigworth, the Leigh, Deerhurst and Apperley under the Coombe Hill ward would move from the Tewkesbury constituency to the Forest of Dean.
But there is no certainty the revised plans will go ahead after the Liberal Democrats pulled their support for the move nationally .
Jeremy Hilton, leader of the Gloucester LibDems, said his party was unlikely to support it.
He added:"The proposal is academic if the boundary changes are voted down in parliament.
"It is disappointing for Hempsted, but at the same time important so many historical landmarks in Gloucester will remain."
Consultation on the changes runs until December 10.