Have you had your say on proposed constituency boundary changes?

Stevenage MP Stephen McPartland, Hitchin and Harpenden MP Bim Afolami and North East Herts MP Sir Oliver Heald. 

Stevenage MP Stephen McPartland, Hitchin and Harpenden MP Bim Afolami and North East Herts MP Sir Oliver Heald. - Credit: Archant

The consultation into proposed boundary changes for constituencies in England closes soon - but there's still time to have your say.

The 2023 Boundary Commission Review is being conducted under rules laid down by Parliament, which retains the number of constituencies in the UK at 650 and requires the number of electors in each constituency to be brought more in line with each other. 

For this review, most constituencies in England must have no fewer than 69,724 and no more than 77,062 electors - and so in the proposals, the number of constituencies increases from 533 to 543.

The plans, revealed in June, would see huge changes for Hitchin if they went ahead. Bim Afolami's Hitchin and Harpenden constituency, as it is currently, would be scrapped. Instead there would be a Hitchin seat and a Harpenden and Berkhamsted seat in Parliament. 

The Hitchin boundary cut off in relation to the existing seat would fall just below Kimpton, near Blackmore End. 

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The new Hitchin constituency would take in areas of Mid Beds - including Shefford, Henlow, Clifton and Chicksands - which currently are represented by MP Nadine Dorries. And Stotfold and Arlesey - now within the North East Beds MP remit - would also fall within the Hitchin constituency.

Mr Afolami said: “It is an interesting proposal. But I would caution against getting too excited about the initial phase of the boundary commission work - there is a long and meticulous process which continues for the best part of two years, so a long way to go.  

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"I personally love my seat just the way it is and I think the fabric of its community represents the very best of Hertfordshire. Unfortunately though I don’t get to determine, approve or vote on the final iteration of these proposals (and that’s probably a good thing!).”

The Stevenage constituency would remain unchanged in the plans - and the Letchworth, Baldock and surrounding villages in Sir Oliver Heald's North East Herts remit would also unchanged.

It had been previously proposed that the constituency would be renamed Letchworth and Royston and incorporate several villages from the South Cambridgeshire constituency over the county border. However, this proposal has been scrapped in the latest plans. 

Sir Oliver Heald said: "I welcome this stability which helps constituents and those who provide services to know who their MP is and makes access easier.

"North East Hertfordshire covers a big area from Letchworth, Royston, Baldock and Buntingford down the A10 to villages south of Hertford like Bayford.

"Although there are many different issues, I think we have a lot in common and form a community that is understood by residents."

The Boundary Commission has received over 14,000 representations so far, and encourages members of the public who have not yet done so to send in their feedback before the consultation closes at midnight on August 2.

The Commission will hold its secondary consultation in early Spring 2022, including holding a number of public hearings across the country, and will publish its revised proposals later in 2022.

At the end of the consultation process, the Commission will present its final recommendations to Parliament by July 1, 2023.

Tim Bowden, secretary to the Boundary Commission for England, said: “In June, we published our proposals for what the new map of constituencies across England could look like.

"We asked for your feedback, and it’s fantastic that we have had over 14,000 responses so far. However, we want to hear from as many people as possible to help us get the boundaries we have proposed right. Your feedback matters. I encourage all members of the public to visit the website and tell us whether your local area is best represented in the boundary lines and constituency names we have suggested.

"Every response will be taken into account during the development of our revised proposals. During the previous review we changed over half of our initial proposals based on the feedback we received. There is just one week remaining to send us your comments on our initial proposals for new constituencies in England, and it’s quick and easy to do."

An interactive map of the proposed new constituencies across England can be viewed via the consultation portal, bcereviews.org.uk.

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