Harpenden constituency to go under proposed boundary changes

The proposed new constituency for Harpenden and Berkhamsted.

The proposed new constituency for Harpenden and Berkhamsted. - Credit: Boundary Commission for England

The existing Harpenden and Hitchin constituency could be swept away under proposed constituency changes, but the sitting MP isn't worried!

The Boundary Commission for England today published its initial proposals for new boundaries, which include merging Harpenden with Berkhamsted and making Hitchin a stand-alone constituency with parts of Mid Beds and North East Beds.

But MP Bim Afolami says it's a long way to go before anything is cast in stone.

“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.

"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 rival Sam Collins, who stood against Bim at the last General Election, is not happy about the proposals.

"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.

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"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.

"If this government actually cared about making politics fairer then they should be looking to reform our electoral system to make it fairer but instead they are introducing things like forcing people to show ID cards at polling stations, making it harder for people to participate.

"In reality though these proposals are just that, proposals, and may well not go ahead, and if they are implemented it will not be until the summer of 2023 at the earliest, I wonder if the Prime Minister can hang on that long, or will he or whoever is PM in 2022 and 2023 call an early election?"

Conservative Gagan Mohindra is the current South West Hertfordshire MP, whose constituency includes Berkhamsted.

The 2023 Review of Parliamentary constituencies was formally launched in January this year to ensure the number of electors in each constituency is more equal.

The Commission will present its final recommendations to Parliament by July 2023, but these initial proposals offer the first opportunity to see what the map of new constituencies might look like.

Members of the public are encouraged to visit www.bcereviews.org.uk to view maps showing the proposed new boundaries and provide feedback before the consultation closes on August 2.