Is this the end of Welwyn Hatfield?
16:00 17 June 2011
WELWYN Hatfield faces being wiped off the political map as a Parliamentary constituency in a forthcoming shake-up of electoral boundaries.
Research findings, by a group of sociology boffins called Democratic Audit led by political analyst Lewis Baston, working at the University of Liverpool, suggest that housing minister Grant Shapps could be at risk of losing his seat, which he held onto with a whopping 17,423 majority at the last General Election.
The research says Welwyn Hatfield could be split asunder, with WGC merging with MP Mark Prisk’s Hertford and Stortford constituency; and Hatfield amalgamating with St Albans, where incumbent Tory MP Anne Main holds a slender majority of just over 2,000.
The changes are part of the Coalition Agreement to reduce the number of MPs from 650 to 600 and reorganise boundaries.
The reduction could see the three Conservative MPs pitted against each other to see which one potentially gets the axe.
The final changes will be decided by the Boundary Commission later this year.
But despite the findings Mr Shapps said he wasn’t “losing any sleep over it”.
And he accused the report’s authors of having a Labour bias.
He told the WHT: “It [the report] was written by someone who supports Labour on the boundary reviews.”
He said the two Labour-held Luton seats are both far smaller than Welwyn Hatfield and that the report should have focused on them.
He added: “I don’t think this analysis is terribly believable.”
Cllr Kieran Thorpe, the Labour Party leader on Welwyn Hatfield Council, opposes the cut in MPs.
He said: “As much as it may be difficult to foresee happening, with the Government’s plans, some constituencies are going to have to be drastically redrawn, so it could well be us.”