UPDATED: County division boundaries are set to change by 2015 – so make your views count!

Current division boundaries in Herts
Current division boundaries in Herts

The county council representative for one of Herts’ smallest divisions is urging voters to help shape new electoral boundaries for the area’s 77 political spaces.

David Lloyd, who represents the Bridgewater division covering Dacorum villages such as Great Gaddesden, Markyate and his home area of Flamstead, says taking part in a public consultation by the Local Government Boundary Commission for England will help ensure fairness for voters.

The reason behind the changes lies in the range of electorate sizes across Hertfordshire, with a huge disparity between the Hatfield North division, which currently represents around 17,000 voters, and Bridgewater which represents just 8,600 constituents.

A spokesman for the Commission said: “We are conducting an electoral review of Herts County Council to deliver electoral equality for local voters.

“Due to development and the natural movement of people, some county councillors in Herts currently represent many more, or far fewer, voters than their colleagues. The pattern is repeated across the county and means that the value of your vote, in county council elections, varies depending on where you live.

“The review aims to re-draw electoral division boundaries to correct the imbalances while taking into account the interests and identities of local communities.”

Mr Lloyd, who also acts as police and crime commissioner for the whole of Herts, believes getting the maximum number of respondents to the consultation will ensure the community feel of all divisions is maintained as much as possible after the changes.

He said: “There is a need to weigh up the population of areas against their sense of community. Some people will feel more strongly about their community than the number of people in the area.

“In terms of Bridgewater, it has always been a collection of villages which wouldn’t necessarily view themselves as closely related to each other, but as their county councillor I work hard to make sure I am involved in all of their communities.

“Whatever the Commission decides needs to happen, it is important that they do it on a fair basis. Clearly, it is difficult that there are around 8,000 people in my division and perhaps one and a half times that down the road in Berkhamsted.

“I would encourage people to get involved to say how they would feel best represented. It is no reflection on their county councillor whether they see themselves as a series of villages or as part of a town.”

The Commission has also announced that it intends to keep 77 county councillors in Herts in future, based on evidence that this number provides the right amount of elected members to make decisions on behalf of local people, while allowing councillors to represent the interests of their communities.

This number of county councillors is also comparable to other local authorities with similar responsibilities.

Chairman of the Commission Max Caller said: “If you have a view about which communities, parishes or neighbourhoods should be part of the same county division, then we want to hear from you. And if you think a road, river or railway makes for a strong boundary between communities in your part of Herts, then this consultation is for you.”

Visit consultation.lgbce.org.uk to view the current county division map and add your views to the consultation.

Comments can be made until June 23 before the Commission publishes its draft recommendations in September. Final recommendations are expected in February next year.