Boundary changes for Harpenden constituency rejected

Hitchin and Harpenden MP Peter Lilley

Hitchin and Harpenden MP Peter Lilley - Credit: Archant

CHANGES to parliamentary boundaries that could have created a new constituency covering Harpenden and parts of Bedfordshire were foiled on Tuesday following a defeat in the House of Commons.

MPs voted by 334 to 292 to delay the plans, which were aimed at slimming down the number of MPs by redrawing the electoral map until at least 2018.

As part of the shake-up it was suggested the current Hitchin and Harpenden seat, held by Tory MP Peter Lilley, would be carved up and renamed as the Mid Beds and Harpenden constituency.

Voters in Sandridge and Redbourn would join the St Albans constituency and the new seat would gain wards in Beds including Shefford, Silsoe and Shillington, Langford and Henlow Village.

Mr Lilley was unavailable to comment at the time of going to press but in a previous interview with the Herts Advertiser he said he personally did not welcome the changes and predicted they would be rejected by his coalition colleagues.

St Albans MP Anne Main, whose seat could have gained 8,000 voters, attacked the Liberal Democrats this week for voting against the boundary review.

Mrs Main said: “I am disappointed that the Liberal Democrats did not want to progress with a bill they have previously voted for.

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“This means we will enter the next election with unequal constituencies and an extra cost of £13.5 million a year as a result of not reducing the number of MPs.

“I do not think that the public will be impressed, and this will not be easy to explain to taxpayers on the doorstep.”