Boundary changes: Plain bonkers or naked self-interest?

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Hemel MP Mike Penning has described proposals to change the boundaries of his constituency as “plain bonkers”.

The Tory MP said that he agreed with the Boundary Commission’s plans in theory, but not as they affect his own seat.

But his rivals reckon that the MP is more worried about looking after his own interests and keeping his seat safe.

Mr Penning said: “I welcome the principle of the boundary changes to reduce the number of MPs and equalise the number of electors per constituency.

“However the proposal to remove Ashridge ward from the Hemel Hempstead constituency, and add Gade Valley Ward from the Three Rivers District, is just plain bonkers.

“The present Hemel Hempstead constituency is a cohesive society, totally within Dacorum Borough. Adding one ward from Three Rivers – particularly an area such as Hunton Bridge which has little connection to Hemel Hempstead – seems to fly in the face of common sense.”

A Labour spokesman said: “This is naked self-interest on behalf of Mike Penning who is concerned about losing Tory votes in Ashridge in return for Lib Dem-voting Gade Valley.

“Yet he doesn’t seem to be that bothered about are the thousands of Dacorum residents, out of 2million countrywide, who joined the electoral register in order vote in the EU referendum.

“They have been ignored by this review because of it’s early cut-off date. Their voice will have been taken away by a Tory government more interested in fixing elections than fixing the country, if these proposals go through.

“I don’t remember Mike Penning complaining about boundary changes last time round when it meant moving Tory-voting Caddington into Hemel Hempstead from Bedfordshire.”

Hemel Hempstead has been a key ‘swing’ seat in general elections ever since the constituency was recreated in the mid 1990s. However it has been solidly Tory is recent elections, with Mike Penning gaining twice as many votes as the Labour Party in 2015.