Southsea is split down the middle by change to electoral map

SPLIT Above, left, Rebecca Pullen and Simon Thompson on the east side of Lawrence Road in Southsea. Right, Mary Hill on the west side.  Pictures: Paul Jacobs

SPLIT Above, left, Rebecca Pullen and Simon Thompson on the east side of Lawrence Road in Southsea. Right, Mary Hill on the west side. Pictures: Paul Jacobs

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THEY LIVE on the same road, but come the next General Election, they must act as if their homes are in different places.

Mary Hill, Rebecca Pullen, and Simon Thompson all live in Lawrence Road, Southsea.

Up to now, they have travelled to the same polling booths, to choose between the same candidates to elect an MP.

But under Boundary Commission plans, the neighbours will no longer come together to choose an MP for Portsmouth South.

Instead, Mary, must elect a representative for Portsmouth West, while Rebecca and her brother Simon, who live opposite, will be choosing between candidates to represent Portsmouth East.

Mary, 65, said: ‘It’s a real shame. I’d rather stay as we are. Our MP Mike Hancock knows us well and works hard for us.’

The Boundary Commission’s proposed Portsmouth West constituency would stretch from Southsea seafront and include St Jude ward, the Southsea area in which Mary lives, as well as Hilsea, Nelson, Charles Dickens, Cosham, Paulsgrove, St Thomas and Portchester East.

Mary said: ‘People here in Southsea face the same issues. I’m worried people elsewhere in the city face different issues. How will one MP deal with them all?

‘It’s breaking up a community. I don’t want it.’

Across the road live IT worker Rebecca, 40, and planning officer Simon.

If the Commission’s plans are accepted, they will share their MP with people in Eastney, Fratton, Milton, Drayton and Farlington, Copnor, Baffins and Purbrook.

Rebecca said: ‘I suppose the boundary had to be somewhere, but it could have been done better.

‘Southsea is a community, and it would be a shame to see that go.

‘On the other hand, we vote for representatives of the city.’

Simon, 45, added: ‘They should have had more regard for community.

‘But maybe it will be good for the city not to be divided north and south any more.’

The commission’s plans must undergo public consultation before they are voted on by MPs, in Autumn 2013.

If accepted, they would be in place for the expected 2015 General Election.

Portsmouth City Council leader Gerald Vernon-Jackson said: ‘I’ll oppose the splitting of Southsea.

‘It’s a community of its own. It should remain as one.’

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