Proposed Boundary Commission Changes
Association’s response to initial proposals for local Constituency changes
I write on behalf of the Raynes Park and West Barnes Residents’ Association. This was founded in 1928 and is one of the two largest Residents’ Associations in the London Borough of Merton, and has some 2000 household members. Our members live in the Council wards of Raynes Park, West Barnes, Cannon Hill, and Lower Morden.
We are in receipt of the Boundary Commission for England’s initial proposals to reduce the number of MP’s from 650 to 600, and to average out the number of voters in each Parliamentary seat. The proposals, as they presently stand, would have major effects on the London Borough of Merton, which would be split into five different constituencies, and result in Councillors and Council officers having to deal with five different MP’s in order to get action on matters that affected local people. We understand that they, as well as both local MP‘s, are very concerned at this prospect, as are we.
We believe that these proposals are misconceived, and that, so far as possible, constituencies should remain co-terminus with the boundaries of London boroughs (which are not about to be altered). There are also natural boundaries which should be respected, such as the A3, Wimbledon Common, and Morden Hall Park.
We believe that it is very important to keep communities together, so that shopping centres, leisure outlets, recreational areas, and transport hubs are not divorced from the areas that they serve. In our own area, residents have always regarded as their centres Wimbledon, and Merton and Morden, and this should be retained.
The Commission is proposing that the Council wards of Wimbledon Park and Wimbledon Village are taken out of the present Wimbledon constituency to join the current Putney constituency. These wards are integral to the history of Wimbledon, and cover both Wimbledon Common and Wimbledon tennis. Hardly any inhabitants in Wimbledon have an affinity for Putney, since Wimbledon Common is a natural boundary separating two distinctively different communities.
The proposal is to replace them with four wards from Mitcham, being Colliers Wood, Lavender Fields, Ravensbury, and Cricket Green. These wards have historically looked to Mitcham as their centre of gravity, and not Wimbledon. The rest of Merton would be hived off to three other constituencies. Lower Morden ward, for example, would become part of the Sutton and Cheam constituency.
Our view is that the best solution to maintain the cohesiveness of our area would be to keep the existing Wimbledon constituency and to add on those parts of the Mitcham constituency that are very close to it, being Colliers Wood and Lavender Fields. That would meet the voting registration criteria. Cricket Green and Ravensbury are further away.
An example of a major issue where it is important to have a unified view across the whole of our area is that of Crossrail 2, where land will needed to be safeguarded for ten years or more in Wimbledon, Raynes Park and Motspur Park while decisions are taken as to the re-siting of stations, possible tunnelling and bridges to remove the level crossings, and the number of tracks required.
The present suggestions would, in our view, result in a cohesive community being irreparably divided, with real consequences for the effective performance of local government.
These proposals are for consultation, and we welcome the opportunity to comment upon them. Having received these consultations, the Commission will, we understand, publish revised recommendations with a view to making final ones in 2018. The Government has said that it is committed to acting on these before the next fixed election.
There are four factors which we understand that the Commission must take into account when making a constituency with the correct number of voters (which is around 70,000- 76,000). These are
1. Special geographical considerations, including size, shape and accessibility;
2. Local government boundaries;
3. Boundaries of existing constituencies;
4. Any local ties that would be broken.
We believe that these objectives can best be met by retaining in a Wimbledon and Merton constituency the four wards we represent together with those in the central Wimbledon area, as well as Wimbledon Park and Wimbledon Village, but together with Colliers Wood and Ravensbury.
We hope that the next round of consultations will put this forward as your preferred option. Please acknowledge receipt of these representations. We would add that Merton Council have not publicised these very important proposals in their newsletter My Merton or otherwise. This means that the information has not been widely disseminated.
John Elvidge, Chairman