South Cambs villages should go to Herts constituency, report says

North East Herts MP Sir Oliver Heald and his South Cambs counterpart Heidi Allen. Picture: Archant

North East Herts MP Sir Oliver Heald and his South Cambs counterpart Heidi Allen. Picture: Archant - Credit: Archant

Despite “considerable opposition”, Bassingbourn, Melbourn, Meldreth and The Mordens should be moved into a new Letchworth and Royston parliamentary constituency, the Boundary Commission for England has decided.

The proposed changes follow a decision by the government to reduce the number of constituencies in the UK from 650 to 600, to ensure that the number of electors in each constituency is equal.

The Boundary Commission proposal still needs to secure the backing of MPs and peers to get the green light.

In the first proposal published, the villages – currently represented by South Cambs MP Heidi Allen – were to go to Sir Oliver Heald’s North East Herts constituency.

This went through rounds of consultation, and the constituency name was then proposed to change to Letchworth and Royston.

The final report, published earlier this afternoon, stated: “We proposed the inclusion of the three South Cambridgeshire district wards of Bassingbourn, Melbourn, and The Mordens in the cross-county boundary North East Hertfordshire constituency, noting good transport links across the county boundaries.

“We had proposed this cross-county boundary constituency because the constituencies in Cambridgeshire had such large electorates that it was not possible to construct seven constituencies that were wholly contained within the county.

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“There was little support for our cross-county boundary constituency of North East Hertfordshire, and considerable opposition to the three district of South Cambridgeshire wards of Bassingbourn, Melbourn and The Mordens being included in this constituency. There was a campaign to retain the Melbourn ward in South Cambridgeshire and a well-supported counter-proposal that retained the three wards in South Cambridgeshire, Although this had considerable knock-on effects on a number of other constituencies in the region, with the result that only Suffolk would be considered as a subregion in its own right.

“It was noted that there was no support from the constituencies that would be affected if this counter-proposal were to be accepted. In addition to the opposition regarding these three wards, we also received a significant number of representations that suggested that the Meldreth ward had very close links with the Melbourn ward — with both wards sharing many amenities such as schools, the railway station, health provision and churches — and that the

Meldreth and Melbourn wards should be contained within the same constituency.

“The inclusion of the Bassingbourn, Melbourn, and The Moderns wards in the cross-county boundary constituency of North East Hertfordshire had been vigorously opposed by many respondents.

“We had noted the consultation evidence that had emerged during the consultation stages that the Meldreth ward shared many community links with the Melbourn ward and that both should be included in the same constituency.

“Having considered the evidence received in response to our revised proposals, we were not persuaded to amend the boundaries of any of our proposed constituencies in the Cambridgeshire, Hertfordshire and Norfolk sub-region.

“We were conscious of the considerable opposition to the inclusion of four South Cambridgeshire district wards in the cross-county boundary Letchworth and Royston constituency. However, the electorates of the existing Cambridgeshire constituencies were such that it would be impossible for us to construct constituencies in Cambridgeshire within the permitted range without crossing the county boundary.

“The key counter-proposal in this area that retained the Bassingbourn, Melbourn and The Morderns wards in a wholly Cambridgeshire constituency had far-ranging consequences across many constituencies and we considered that such disruption across the region could not be justified.

“We also considered that the Meldreth ward does have very close links with the Melbourn ward, as confirmed by strong evidence and the observations of our assistant commissioners, and we are convinced that the ward should also be included in the Letchworth and Royston constituency.”