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Town's leading politicians in favour of Boundary Commission proposals
The three main political parties in Watford have all welcomed the new proposed changes to the town’s parliamentary constituency.
Yesterday the Boundary Commission revealed initial plans to expand the seat to take in Moor Park and South Oxhey had been scrapped in a revised map.
Proposals to transfer Abbots Langley and Leaveseden to the neighbouring South West Hertfordshire constituency have also been dropped. Under the new map the area of Carpenders Park is still set to move from Watford to the Hertsmere constituency.
The move comes as part of a planned shake-up of the House of Commons that will see the number parliamentary seats reduced from 650 to 600 and redraw constituencies so they reflect more equal numbers of people.
Watford is a marginal seat that swung from Labour to the Conservatives at the last General Election. In 2010 the Liberal Democrats were also in contention, coming second in the race. So any changes to the constituency border could affect who Watford returns as its MP in the future. However Boundary Commission’s changes, which will be voted on next year, is under threat as the Liberal Democrat wing of the Coalition Government is threatening to block the bill after Conservative MPs thwarted attempts to reform the House of Lords.
Following the yesterday's release of the new constituency proposals Watford’s current Conservative MP, Richard Harrington, said he was happy with the latest draft.
He said: "I am very pleased my appeal was carried. My appeal was to keep the status quo but accept we had to lose Carpenders Park to keep in with the new lower numbers.
"Abbots Langley and Leavesden are important parts of the constituency, but Moor Park and South Oxhey are not so much."
After the first draft of the new constituency maps were released last year politicians and the public were able to make representations to the politically-neutral Boundary Commission over the changes.
Watford’s Liberal Democrat elected mayor, Dorothy Thornhill, said she was also pleased with the latest constituency map.
She said: "I am pleased that the Boundary Commission agreed with the Liberal Democrat submission (to keep Abbots Langley and Leavesden), we felt it made more sense in terms of natural communities.
"Now whether it will go through is up to our MPs."
Mayor Thornhill added she hoped her party would drop its opposition to the boundary changes in Parliament between now and the vote.
She said: "If I was an MP I would say we should not be blocking this. I think it is a good piece of work, reducing the number of MPs is necessary and it equalises the constituencies."
Neither the town’s MP nor elected Mayor wanted to be drawn on the potential political implications the new map would have on the next General Election battle in Watford if it is passed.
But Labour said they thought the new map would help the party reclaim the Watford’s Parliamentary seat.
Mike Jackson, chairman of Watford Labour Party: "Were the proposals to go ahead, then the new boundary would actually be more favourable for Labour. Opinion polls consistently show Labour would win Watford on existing or proposed boundaries. "As we are already seeing in by-elections, voters will punish Nick Clegg's Liberal Democrats for getting into bed with Cameron's Conservatives and slavishly supporting right-wing policies. It's a going to be a two-horse race here at the general election, Labour - or the Conservatives."