1. Why is there a Boundary Review now?
The Boundary Commission announced a Consultation on 13th September that ends on 5th December. It is intended to reduce the number of MPs from 650 to 600 and each constituency to have an equal number of voters within 5% of 74,769 (i.e. between 71,031 and 78,507).
There will be two further consultations in 2017. The Commission would then submit its final recommendations to Parliament in September 2018 for approval to come into effect for the General Election expected in 2020. Thereafter there will be a review every 5 years down from the present 12 to 15 years reviews.
2. The Boundary Commissions proposals for Carpenders Park
The Boundary Commission proposes to transfer Carpenders Park (with 5,006 electors [3,875 in the ‘main’ part of Carpenders Park (DCH) and 1,131 in the DCG part of Ashridge] out of Watford into Hertsmere and to bring South Oxhey (4,537 electors) into Watford from South West Hertfordshire (SWH). Under their proposals the new Watford constituency would have 72,878 electors and Hertsmere would have 74,831 electors. Therefore both constituencies would be within their prescribed range.
The Commission has looked at this from a geographic number balancing perspective rather than historical associations, whereas residents will find greater affinity with Watford than Hertsmere.
3. Affinity with Watford for Carpenders Park residents
Many residents regularly shop in Watford; some work there and others go there for entertainment. This must be far less the case with parts of Hertsmere.
Watford has seen and will continue to see major investments such as:
the new Croxley Green Rail Link being built, scheduled to be operating 2018
the proposed new Watford Health Campus
the £100 million redevelopment of Charter Place
These and others will be an increasing attraction for drawing Carpenders Park residents to Watford.
4. Access to an MP
It is important for residents to have easy physical access to their MP. We hear all too often complaints in other parts of the country that residents see their MPs so infrequently that they cannot identity them or find it very difficult to meet them if they have a problem. An MP’s political surgery is important. Watford’s MP holds his surgeries in Watford but if Carpenders Park transfers to Hertsmere residents would have to travel much further to 104, High St, London Colney, St Albans AL2 1QL to see their MP, currently Oliver Dowden.
5. An alternative proposal
If Carpenders Park (with 5,006 electors) stayed in Watford in addition to the other wards proposed by the Commission that would raise the number of electors to 77,884, so it would be inside the upper limit of 78,507. However, that on itself would lower the number of electors in Hertsmere to 69,825 i.e. below the bottom limit acceptable to the Commission. Therefore this will not happen unless alternative proposals can be submitted to the Commission by 5th December that affects the neighbouring constituencies of Hertsmere and St. Albans.
If people in London Colney (6,642 electors) moved to Hertsmere and people in Gade Valley (4,926 electors) and Leavesden (5,111 electors) moved to St. Albans, such moves would result in Watford, Hertsmere and St. Albans all having the number of electors within the Commission’s limits for the new constituencies.
This will have the additional benefit of keeping the communities of Carpenders Park and South Oxhey together under the same MP. It would also keep the community of Abbotts Langley together under the same MP.
6. What to do next?
It is really important for residents to give their views to the Boundary Commission for England by Monday 5th December. You can do so online by going to www.bce2018.org.uk and then enter your postcode and you will be taken to the area where you can Have Your Say. Please encourage your friends in Carpenders Park who could not come today to write to the Commission with their views.
Key points for any letters or response.
Community connections with Watford and South Oxhey.
No road or rail connections with Hertsmere. The only connection is via a field.
Access to the MP. Watford has easy access by bus and train for those who don't have a car. The Hertsmere MP is not accessible unless you have a car.
The communities of Watford, South Oxhey and Carpenders Park are interconnected and the current MP understands the impact of changes made in one area affects the others. There is no such interaction between Hertsmere and changes in Watford Carpenders Park.