A Strong Voice for Croydon Central - Gavin Barwell MP
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Proposed changes to constituency boundaries
15/09/2011 18:12:00


On Tuesday, the Boundary Commission for England published its draft proposals for new constituency boundaries.

Parliament has asked them - and their fellow Boundary Commissions in the other parts of the UK - to review constituency boundaries for two reasons. First, to reduce the number of MPs from 650 to 600 - pretty much every other public service is having to make savings and politics shouldn't be immune from that. And second, the current boundaries are unfair - there is a wide variation in constituency size and as a result some areas are over-represented in Parliament and other areas, including Croydon, are under-represented. For example, Croydon has an electorate of just under 245,000 and is represented by three Members of Parliament; the Wirral in Merseyside has an electorate of just under 240,000 but is represented by four MPs. That can't be right. And this unfairness benefits the Labour Party - a report by the scrupulously independent Royal Academy estimated that it gave them an additional 18 seats at the last Election.

The problem is that the only way to get fairer, more equal-sized constituencies is to have more constituencies that cross council boundaries and hence cover two or more communities that may not have a lot in common. Croydon is a case in point – we deserve three-and-a-bit seats and the only way to achieve that is to have a seat that is part Croydon and part a neighbouring borough. Not ideal but in my opinion a price worth paying for a fairer electoral system.

The Commission have chosen to pair Croydon with the London Borough of Sutton. I think this is the right choice - we are already paired together when it comes to our seat on the Greater London Authority and many people in places like Wallington and Beddington look to Croydon as much as to Sutton.

Rather than having three MPs then, we will now have four but two of them will represent parts of Sutton as well as parts of Croydon. The names of the proposed new seats are Croydon Central & St Helier, Croydon East, Croydon North and Purley & Carshalton.

Rather confusingly, only one ward (Fairfield) that is in the current Croydon Central (the seat I represent) goes into the proposed Croydon Central & St Helier seat. It is joined by Broad Green ward from the current Croydon North, Croham and Waddon wards from the current Croydon South and five wards from Sutton. It is a good idea to bring the four wards surrounding Croydon town centre together. Politically, my instinct is that this is a seat that all three of the main parties would have a chance of winning.

The proposed Croydon East seat contains the other 7 wards from the current Croydon Central plus Selsdon & Ballards ward from the current Croydon South. If these proposals are adopted, this is the seat I would therefore apply for. There is a strong case for linking Selsdon & Ballards with Heathfield ward - the Ballards estate used to be part of Heathfield ward and Forestdale and Monks Hill look to Selsdon as their district centre. I am also pleased to see, in the light of the mistaken decision to approve the Menta planning application, that Addiscombe hasn't been treated as a town centre ward but has been included in Croydon East. Politically, It would be a stronger Conservative seat than the current Croydon Central (I would have won it by approximately 5,500 in 2010, compared with my majority of just under 3,000 in the current Croydon Central). Given that New Addington is a town in its own right geographically seperate from the rest of the Borough I think there is a strong case for calling the seat Croydon East & New Addington.

The proposed Croydon North seat is the existing Croydon North minus Broad Green and would therefore remain a safe Labour seat.

The proposed Purley & Carshalton seat is the current Croydon South minus Croham, Selsdon & Ballards and Waddon wards plus four wards from Sutton. It would be a safe Conservative seat, albeit not as safe as the current Croydon South.

You can see and comment on the Commission’s draft proposals for London here. I will be supporting the proposals for the reasons given above (they give Croydon an extra voice in Parliament; if we have to be linked with another borough, Sutton is the right one; it makes sense to put the four wards - Broad Green, Croham, Fairfield and Waddon - around the town centre into the same seat; it also makes sense to have Heathfield ward and Selsdon & Ballards ward in the same seat; Addiscombe is not a town centre ward and it is therefore right that it is in Croydon East not Croydon Central & St Helier) and arguing that the Croydon East seat should be renamed Croydon East & New Addington. I would encourage you to do the same.

Comment on this blog


Readers' Comments

On 15/09/2011 22:39:00 John Cartwright wrote:
I agree that it is better to combine Croydon with Sutton than with Bromley or Lambeth; I agree with the proposed boundaries for Croydon East; and I even agree with Fairfield being combined with Waddon (around the town centre).

I would have preferred a Croydon South West constituency (going from Broad Green and Fieldway to Purley and Kenley), with only Coulsdon being combined with parts of Sutton. I presume that the proposed arrangement (Croydon Central with St Helier, and Croydon South with Carshalton) has been reached because of knock-on effects from other boroughs, which would have made it impossible to make a Croydon SW.

BUT: the one thing I have a big problem with is the names. The proposed Purley & Carshalton should be called "Croydon South and Carshalton" because about 65% of its electorate will still be in Croydon. If "Croydon South" is not used, surely "Coulsdon and" would be more representative than "Purley and" (because Purley is only one ward out of the five).

Similarly, "and St Helier" would be confusing, because there are two St Helier wards: one in Sutton and one in Merton. It would be confusing for voters, politicians and administrators if the name "St Helier" is used for a constituency which does not include both - particularly because Merton's St Helier ward will become part of Sutton & Cheam constituency. A better name for the Croydon Central seat would be "and Beddington", "and Beddington Park" or "and Wandle" (as a vague geographical name to unite the two communities).

I think that experience of previous boundary reviews (parliamentary and local) have sometimes focused too much on the boundaries and neglected too much the names. I hope you will bear in mind the need to improve the names of the proposed constituencies, even if you otherwise support the boundaries.

On 16/09/2011 07:15:00 Gavin wrote:

Good point about the importance of getting the right name. It is for others who know the areas better to reflect on Purley/Coulsdon/Croydon South and whether St Helier is the right designation for the part of Sutton in the Croydon Central & St Helier seat but I have amended the post above to argue that the Croydon East seat should be renamed Croydon East & St Helier.

On 16/09/2011 09:13:00 Gavin wrote:
Whoops! End of last comment should of course read "Croydon East & New Addington"!
On 22/09/2011 01:27:00 John wrote:
I would prefer one constituency called the 'United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland'.

On 13/10/2011 00:08:00 Jim wrote:
I suppose Croydon has always had a problem with points of the compass. West Croydon station is in the north, Croydon Central nudges against the far east of Croydon.

But with the blessed EU, we are all effectively "Europe North West". Any chance of pulling out of that one please? Or at least having a vote on it?




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Gavin Barwell, 133 Wickham Road, CR0 8TE, Tel  020 8663 8741      © Gavin Barwell  2019       Promoted by Ian Parker on behalf of Gavin Barwell, both at 36 Brighton Road, Purley, CR8 2LG