Boundary changes on the backburner

NRHNBE100506a8, Amber valley general election count, Alfreton leisure centre. Concervative candidate Nigel Mills.
NRHNBE100506a8, Amber valley general election count, Alfreton leisure centre. Concervative candidate Nigel Mills.

Controversial plans to mothball redrawing parliamentary constituency boundaries could leave Amber Valley’s Conservative MP Nigel Mills vulnerable at the next election, claim Labour.

Mr Mills took the key marginal Amber Valley seat from Labour’s Judy Mallaber by just 536 votes at the last General election in 2010.

Now the Tory-instigated move to change constituency boundaries has been shelved until 2018 – after the next General Election. It came after the House of Lords had voted to delay any changes, which was then backed by the MPs in the House of Commons as the Liberal Democrats and Labour joined forces for the vote.

The Conservatives had maintained that the changes were to even out the number of voters in each constituency. Critics of the move claimed it was to bolster marginal Tory seats like Amber Valley.

Had the proposed changes drawn up by the Boundary Commission gone through the Conservative stronghold of Belper would have moved into Amber Valley and Alfreton and Somercotes would have gone into Bolsover, giving Mr Mills the potential for many more Tory voters.

This week Amber Valley Labour group leader Paul Jones said: “It’s not good news for Nigel Mills! Amber Valley is the eleventh most vulnerable Tory seat. It’s a target seat for Labour and he is looking like toast It’s a real bellwether seat.”

He added that he felt the introduction of individual electoral registration (IER)whereby members of the same household must register individually, rather than as one house - would lower the number of people on the electoral role.

He said: “I think IER is stupid. I think the important thing is to have people on the register.

“But the delay is sensible because you will get a better reflection of the new numbers.”

Mr Mills said: “I thought it was pretty disgraceful behaviour on the part of the Liberal Democrats to go back on a manifesto agreement. We have lived in a situation where there have been huge discrepancies 
between the numbers of 

“But I am more than happy to keep trying to represent the same people at the next election.”

Mr Mills won his seat as the national press focused on the amber Valley result after it was one of the last to be recorded 
after three recounts of the votes.