ST Neots will not be getting its own Parliamentary constituency – even if the Liberal Democrats complete a U-turn.
The Boundary Commission for England yesterday (Tuesday) published revised plans to reduce the number of MPs in England by 31 and create more evenly-sized constituencies – no smaller than 72,810 people and no larger than 80,473.
Its first stab at moving the boundary lines saw the creation of a St Neots constituency, which would have included parts of South Cambridgeshire, and divorced the county’s largest town – at least at a national political level – from Huntingdon.
The Huntingdon constituency – to make up its numbers – included parts of Fenland while the North West Cambridgeshire constituency – currently held by Shailesh Vara MP – disappeared completely. But it’s all change following a consultation into the proposals.
St Neots and Huntingdon would be welded together once again – along with St Ives – in a constituency that would be called St Neots and Huntingdon. North West Cambridgeshire makes a comeback, covering north Huntingdonshire (Sawtry, Somersham. Warboys and Ramsey) along with parts of Peterborough.
Other parts of Huntingdonshire – Earith, the Offords and Fenstanton – would be included in a newly formed constituency called South West Cambridgeshire. This would include large chunks of the current South Cambridgeshire constituency, such as Papworth and Bourn.
There would also be South East Cambridgeshire (Queen Edith’s along with Soham, Duxford and Fulbourn), Cambridge, North East Cambridgeshire (Ely and March), and Wisbech and Downham Market.
Huntingdon MP Jonathan Djanogly said the revised plans were a far more realistic option.
“This would keep similar boundaries to the exiting constituency, which I am very pleased to see,” he told The Hunts Post. “However, it has to be said that the Lib Dems in Parliament have said they will not support the boundary changes, so they are unlikely to go through if Labour doesn’t support it.”
Mr Djanogly added: “What happened last time was that the review grouped together Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire. They started in Suffolk and my constituency was right at the end of the loop and what was left over was a very ungainly constituency.”
However, the Huntingdon and St Neots constituency marriage is unlikely to be life-long. Mr Djanogly believes that changes will occur in the future – possibly if the Conservatives get a majority after the next election.
And it’s all or nothing – St Neots would not be added to the constituency name in the meantime. “There’s no chance of that happening unless all of the changes happen elsewhere,” he added.
Including St Neots in the constituency name would give the town the recognition it deserves, said St Neots Mayor Councillor Barry Chapman.
“Fifty per cent of the present constituency live in the area of St Neots and this is set to grow to over 60 per cent in the next few years. We are also the main town serving parts of South Cambridgeshire and East Bedfordshire and a major contributor to the economic wellbeing of those areas and Cambridgeshire as a whole. It is good that our campaign for recognition of the economic importance of St Neots in the region is being heard by the Boundary Commission.”
Mr Vara said he was pleased the revised report reinstated much of the old boundaries of the North West Cambridgeshire constituency, although it would be disappointing to lose some the villages from the edge of the area.
INFORMATION: The proposals can be viewed in full at http://consultation.boundarycommissionforengland.independent.gov.uk/static