How do North East Herts and South Cambs fare in the latest boundary review proposals?
- Credit: HM Government
The latest proposals for changes to parliamentary constituency boundaries have been unveiled - and the new plans will come as a relief to many in our area.
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.
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 Bassingbourn, Melbourn, Guilden Morden and Steeple Morden - with former South Cambs MP Heidi Allen telling the Crow at the time that moving the boundary to include those villages made "no sense".
In 2018, more South Cambs villages were proposed to 'move' across the Hertfordshire border.
It was proposed that Shingay-cum-Wendy, Tadlow, Whaddon, Meldreth, Shepreth, Melbourn, Flint Cross, Dyer’s Green, Bassingbourn-cum-Kneesworth, Abington Pigotts, Litlington, the Mordens, North Brook End, Heydon, Great Chishill and Little Chishill would go to to the newly-named constituency of Letchworth and Royston if a parliamentary vote is passed.
Consultations were held and clearly our readers made their thoughts and criticisms known.
Today the plans show the constituency border between North East Hertfordshire and South Cambridgeshire would remain as it is currently. MPs Sir Oliver Heald and Anthony Browne welcomed the "stability" of this.
At the time, the North East Herts MP said he had lived in Royston for nearly four decades and knew the villages well - but did not agree with the Letchworth and Royston name change for the constituency.
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In 2018, he said: “I know there are very many friendly links between the villages and the Royston area and, of course, we share the Crow newspaper.
“I think the name of the new constituency does not really reflect its diverse and rural nature or the fact it spans counties.”
Of the latest plans, Sir Oliver told the Crow: "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."
South Cambs MP Anthony Browne told the Crow: “While I would be sorry to no longer represent some of the most vibrant areas of the constituency, it makes sense that South Cambridgeshire must evolve as it grows.
"However, I am keen to make sure that current and future constituents will be part of a connected, coherent constituency that makes sense to them.
“It is impossible for the constituency to remain intact, due in part to rapid and overbearing housebuilding, but dividing major towns such as Cambourne from the greater part of South Cambridgeshire does raise significant questions.
"It is reassuring to see the that villages close to Royston will remain part of this constituency, offering residents some stability and retaining a representational link to their district and county area.
“We are still in the first stage of this process, with further changes sure to follow any consultation, and I am encouraging all residents to closely examine the Boundary Commission's proposal. As ever, theirs is the most important voice and I would urge all affected to have their say on these plans.
“Whatever happens, my focus is on supporting and representing our residents regardless of new lines on a map.”
The review process is heavily informed by public consultation - the latest round opens today and runs until August 2.
As well as taking part in the consultation, let the Crow know your thoughts on the proposals at firstname.lastname@example.org
For more information, see https://www.bcereviews.org.uk.