As you may know, in September the Boundary Commission for England published its draft proposals for new Parliamentary boundaries.
The Commission has been required by Parliament to recommend seats with an electorate between 72,810 and 80,473. At the moment, there is a much bigger variation in constituency size, meaning that some areas are over-represented in Parliament and others are under-represented. Croydon is one of the areas that is under-represented - we should have three seats and part of a fourth but because there hasn’t, until now, been a focus on ensuring that all seats are broadly of similar size we have had to make do with three. Under the new rules, we will get what we are entitled to but this means that at least one seat, possibly more, will have to cross over into another borough. This clearly isn’t ideal in community identity terms but I think it’s a price worth paying for a fairer electoral system.
You can view the draft proposals here. In essence, the Commission is recommending linking Croydon with Sutton. The Croydon North seat stays as it is now minus the Broad Green ward. Croydon Central loses Fairfield ward but gains Selsdon & Ballards ward from Croydon South and is renamed Croydon East. Broad Green and Fairfield, together with the Croham and Waddon wards from the current Croydon South, join with some Sutton wards to form a new Croydon Central & St Helier seat. The remaining Croydon South wards (Coulsdon East, Coulsdon West, Kenley, Purley and Sanderstead) join with some other Sutton wards to form a Purley & Carshalton seat.
The Boundary Commission are currently consulting on the proposals. You can respond online here. My own view is that, given the constraints the Commission have to operate under (as mentioned above, there has to be at least one seat that is part Croydon and part another borough, which by definition is going to be a marriage of two different communities), these proposals are worthy of support. In particular:
• They give Croydon the representation it deserves in Parliament - if they went through, there would be four MPs wholly or mainly representing Croydon compared with the current three.
• If there has to be a seat that is part Croydon and part another borough, it is right to link Croydon with Sutton - we already share a GLA member and many people who live in Beddington, Carshalton and Wallington work, shop and/or go out in Croydon. A link with Bromley would mean crossing the historic Kent/Surrey boundary; a link with Merton would be difficult - Mitcham Common is a clear divide; a link with Lambeth would be undesirable - we’re outer London, they’re inner London; and it would be wrong to cross the Greater London boundary.
• The current constituency boundaries divide Croydon town centre - the boundary runs right down North End with the Whitgift Centre in Croydon Central and Centrale in Croydon North. The Commission’s proposals bring the four wards that surround the town centre - Fairfield, Broad Green, Waddon and Croham - into one constituency. That makes good sense.
• It is right that Addiscombe ward is in Croydon East, not Croydon Central & St Helier - it is part of the residential suburbs of Croydon, not part of the town centre.
• It is right to have Selsdon & Ballards ward in the same constituency as Heathfield ward. The Ballards estate always used to be part of Heathfield ward. Forestdale and Monks Hill, which are in Heathfield ward, see Selsdon as their district centre.
• A better name for the Croydon East constituency would be Croydon East & New Addington to recognise the fact that, while part of the borough of Croydon, New Addington is geographically distinct with its own sense of identity.
• It is right to link Purley with Carshalton. Woodcote straddles the borough boundary; the Clockhouse estate in Sutton is only accessible by road from Croydon.
Hopefully you agree but even if you don’t, I would encourage you to take part in the consultation - and, either way, let me know your view.
P.S. In the interests of transparency, I should make it clear that the Commission’s proposals are beneficial to me politically - the new Croydon East seat is a bit more Conservative-inclined than the current Croydon Central.