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Political parties unite to tell commission: Keep Hampstead constituency united

PUBLISHED: 20:11 28 March 2012

Political parties united in calls to keep Hampstead as one constituency. Picture: Nigel Sutton

Political parties united in calls to keep Hampstead as one constituency. Picture: Nigel Sutton

© Nigel Sutton email pictures@nigelsuttonphotography.com

Hampstead Village must not be carved up by civil servants – this is the message delivered by hundreds of residents opposed to constituency boundary changes.

Under plans to cut the number of Parliamentary seats, the Boundary Commission is proposing to split Belsize Park off from Hampstead and separate Fortune Green from West Hampstead.

But in a rare act of political unity, councillors of all parties and residents have issued a stinging critique of the changes.

Some 430 objections have been lodged – the highest number in London.

Averil Nottage, chairwoman of the Belsize Park Residents Association, said: “A lot of our members are extremely concerned.

“A lot of people in Hampstead have a real sense of history and community, and we risk losing that.”

Camden Liberal Democrat leader Keith Moffitt said it was “senseless” to peel off Fortune Green from the Hampstead and Kilburn seat.

He said: “We don’t want to create more situations like Highgate where communities are split between constituencies.

“Residents identify with West Hampstead as an urban village and community, regardless of whether they live in West Hampstead or Fortune Green ward. They are so intricately connected. It just doesn’t make sense.”

In opposing the split Camden Lib Dems are on a collision course with their regional party, which supports the division in order to protect cabinet minister Lynne Featherstone from having part of her marginal seat of Hornsey and Wood Green altered.

The shake-up is designed to create more evenly populated constituencies, with each seat representing between 72,000 and 80,000 people.

Elections analyst and former Conservative MP Rob Hayward said the strength of opposition to the changes could induce a rethink at the boundary commission.

He said: “The Hampstead and Kilburn seat had the fourth highest level of responses in the country. That is quite striking.

“In part, that is because Hampstead has the informed and articulate community that would comment on these changes.

“But there are also two highly contentious proposals – to separate Belsize Park and Fortune Green from Hampstead and West Hampstead.

“My experience is that given the weight of representations from all parties, the Boundary Commission might reconsider.”

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