Kenilworth Lib Dems oppose Tories' idea to merge Kenilworth with Coventry

A Conservative-led idea to merge Kenilworth and the south of Coventry into one parliamentary constituency has been strongly opposed by the town's Liberal Democrats.

Kenilworth is planned to be paired with Leamington - but Conservatives would be happy to see it merge with south Coventry

Conservative county councillor for Kenilworth Alan Cockburn thought the two areas would be a ‘natural fit’ last week after Coventry’s Conservative group suggested it. He also said there was a ‘strong argument to be had’ about the two joining up and keeping the current constituency of Warwick and Leamington together.

But the Lib Dem councillor for Kenilworth Abbey Cllr John Whitehouse has refuted Cllr Cockburn’s idea, and believes many Kenilworth residents feel the same way.

He said: “Kenilworth people have always been sensitive about Coventry. Although you can argue it’s just an administrative decision and doesn’t mean anything - it really does.

“With HS2 and new housing developments coming to the north there would be a fear that we’ll lose that separateness from Coventry.”

Kenilworth’s voters have been paired off with other areas since it was removed from the old Warwick and Leamington constituency in 1983 due to the rising population.

It became part of Rugby and Kenilworth in 1983 until 2010, when the current Kenilworth and Southam constituency was created.

Newly proposed boundaries aim to pair Kenilworth with Leamington, while Warwick would join with Stratford and Southam would join with Rugby.

Cllr Whitehouse added: “Ever since 1983 when the old constituency broke up, Kenilworth has been shunted round from pillar to post.

“When we were with Rugby the constituency was like a barbell shape with a thin gap in the middle - which was never a ‘natural fit’ if we’re using that jargon.

“Then when we went with Southam it wrapped right around Warwick and Leamington. Although Kenilworth was the largest town in the constituency the two parts had very little in common.

“Joining with Meriden was talked about in the coalition government but it was never brought forward.

“But when we looked at these new proposals we thought Kenilworth and Leamington might work. There are many links between the two towns.

“I think splitting up Warwick and Leamington is a price worth paying - I think if you got to shuffle the pack and that’s the end result I don’t think splitting is too bad.

“Drawing boundaries is not a perfect science but Kenilworth has always been an afterthought - why not put Kenilworth first?”

“I think Kenilworth and Leamington would be an interesting constituency. The Lib Dems have some strength in both towns but I think it would be quite interesting for all the main parties.

“Labour have strength in Leamington, so it could be a three-way battle.”