Boundary changes would leave St Albans villages feeling isolated
- Credit: Drone view of Sandridge by Robin
Residents of Harpenden, Sandridge and Jersey Farm face being lumped in with Berkhamsted and Tring under proposed changes to parliamentary boundaries.
The Boundary Commission for England (BCE) has launched a secondary public consultation on its initially proposed map of constituencies, which comes to a close next Monday, April 4.
Under the proposals, from 2023 a new constituency will sweep up many outlying residents of the St Albans district, separating Jersey Farm and Sandridge politically from the rest of the city, and linking them with towns and villages far to the west.
Residents in Jersey Farm and Sandridge say they enjoy access to the schools, churches, shops, doctors, dentists and many other facilities in St Albans, and enjoy living in and contributing to the city's community, but are voiceless when issues arise which may require the intervention of St Albans' MP.
Jersey Farm resident Marilyn Whittle said: "Jersey Farm and Sandridge have been an integral part of St Albans city for hundreds of years. In the last parliamentary boundary changes in 2010, they were splintered from St Albans politically, to increase voter numbers for Hitchin and Harpenden constituency.
"There is no benefit whatsoever in having an MP who represents areas far removed from St Albans and whose priorities do not reflect the needs of residents here. They seem to be impotent when it comes to representing a small, integral part of a large city with its own MP.
"It’s time to let the Boundary Commission know that we are part of the St Albans community and need to be treated equally, as we were before 2010."
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A spokesperson for Sandridge Parish Council said: "We strongly object to the proposals as they have a negative impact on this parish, with the proposals leaving it spread across two parliamentary constituencies.
"Prior to the last change in constituency boundaries, the parish was entirely within one constituency. The council considers that this would be a preferable outcome of this review and could be achieved by including Sandridge ward within the proposed St Albans constituency.
"Residents of that ward, especially those within Jersey Farm, which is contiguous with the urban area of St Albans, consider that they live in St Albans and are not separate from St Albans.
"Alternatively, the commission should consider amending the constituency boundaries so as to reflect the recently proposed new ward boundaries for St Albans district council.
"In this case, the new wards of both ’Marshalswick West’ and ‘Marshalswick East and Jersey Farm’ would be included in the proposed St Albans constituency. While the parish believes including the entire parish within the St Albans constituency is certainly the more preferable outcome, this latter option would at least bring the Jersey Farm area into the constituency."
St Albans MP Daisy Cooper also responded: “The Boundary Commission has been tasked with equalising constituencies so they have roughly the same number of electors in each one. This hard-and-fast rule inevitably creates anomalies, which unfortunately separates some people from their natural communities.
“I hope that in the first two years of my time as an MP, I have demonstrated to many in Hertfordshire the value of having a hardworking, local Lib Dem MP. Even though many Jersey Farm residents feel much closer to the St Albans community than the newly proposed Harpenden and Berkhamsted constituency, residents will still have the chance to vote for a Lib Dem MP that works hard for them at the next General Election.”
View the proposed new constituency boundaries for your area and provide views on them by visiting the consultation website bcereviews.org.uk (Select Eastern area).
Responses can also be sent in by letter to: Boundary Commission for England, 35 Great Smith Street, London, SW1P 3BQ; by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone on 0207 7276 1102.