How do our constituencies fare in the latest boundary review proposals?
- Credit: Archant
The latest proposals for changes to parliamentary constituency boundaries have been unveiled - including a complete overhaul of the Hitchin seat.
The 2023 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 would see huge changes for Hitchin, with Bim Afolami's Hitchin and Harpenden constituency being 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!).”
Lib Dem Sam Collins, who stood against Mr Afolami in the last election, said: "I am of course not especially pleased with the idea of the Hitchin & Harpenden constituency being split up.
"The local election results show that the Conservatives are about to lose the constituency to the Lib Dems, so you could come to the conclusion that this is a bit of gerrymandering.
"However you have to look at the wider issues, this is about representation, just tweaking the number of voters a bit in each constituency is a bit like that band on the Titanic, playing on as it sinks. What we badly need are reforms that mean people actually get proper representation, there are so many people who feel that their votes don't make difference, that's got to change and fiddling with boundaries just makes things worse.
Back in 2016 it was proposed that Sir Oliver Heald's North East Hertfordshire constituency would be renamed Letchworth and Royston. The constituency would include some South Cambs villages, which former South Cambs MP Heidi Allen said "made no sense".
The latest plans show the constituency border between North East Hertfordshire and South Cambridgeshire would remain as it is currently.
Of the latest plans, Sir Oliver told the Comet: "The initial proposals for the North East Hertfordshire constituency leave it unchanged except for any local government ward boundary changes.
"I welcome this stability which helps constituents and those who provide services to know who their MP is and makes access easier.
"Of course, there is more consultation to come and this will enable local people and political parties to make any points they want.
"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."
Stephen McPartland's Stevenage constituency is unchanged in the plans.
Tim Bowden, secretary to the Boundary Commission for England, said: “Today’s proposals mark the first time people get to see what the new map of Parliamentary constituencies might look like.
“But they are just the commission’s initial thoughts. Help us draw the line to make the number of electors in each Parliamentary constituency more equal.
"View our proposals and have your say on our online consultation portal - www.bcereviews.org.uk.”
The latest consultation opens today, June 8, and closes on August 2.
What you do make of the proposals? Email your thoughts, along with your name and the area you live, to firstname.lastname@example.org.