Another view from the boundary

9 Jun

We’ve been here before, many times in the past ten years, but the Boundary Commission has published its initial proposals for new parliamentary constituencies. In theory, these will be in place for the next scheduled election in 2024, but it’s always possible Boris Johnson will cut and run early and the election will be fought on the current boundaries. So none of this may happen before 2028. Sigh.

If you’re interested, I blogged about the previous reviews in 2011, 2012, 2016 and 2018. Each of those put my own ward of Forest Gate North in a different seat: Stratford constituency; Bow & Stratford; Forest Gate & Loxford; and Leyton & Stratford. And we’re in yet another one this time!

The previous reviews were all premised on the Tory government’s promise to ‘cut the cost of politics’ by reducing the size of the Commons from 650 to 600 MPs. That has now been dropped.

If these proposals actually go through, they will be the first changes to Westminster constituency boundaries since 2010, and will see seats redrawn so they each have between 69,724 and 77,062 registered voters (with some exceptions such as island constituencies). It means, in practice, that England gains 10 seats while Wales loses eight and Scotland two; the north of England and Midlands will lose seats to the south. London gains two additional seats, meaning it will have 75 MPs.

The Commission has divided London into five sub-regions, one of which is Tower Hamlets and Newham. There are currently four seats across the two boroughs and the new arrangements will increase that to five (shown in bold below)

Newham and Tower Hamlets together have a mathematical entitlement to 5.02 constituencies. This pair of boroughs currently has four constituencies, but significant growth in the number of electors in this area means that all four existing constituencies are considerably above the permitted electorate range, and an additional constituency is allocated to the sub-region. This further supports our proposal for a constituency crossing the River Lee in this sub-region. We propose a Stratford and Bow constituency, which crosses the Lee between the Stratford and New Town ward in Newham, and the Bow East ward and Bromley North ward in Tower Hamlets. We note the significant transport links across the river here, including the A118 road, the Central underground line, the Docklands Light Railway, and national rail services, as well as pedestrian crossing points.

While there would be a degree of unavoidable disruption caused by the creation of an additional constituency, we have tried to preserve the four existing constituencies in Newham and Tower Hamlets as far as is practicable. Our proposed East Ham constituency retains eight wards from the existing East Ham constituency. The Beckton ward and Royal Docks ward are consequently included in our proposed West Ham and Beckton constituency. In Tower Hamlets, our proposed Poplar and Limehouse constituency retains nine of its existing wards and spans a similar geographical area, from the Isle of Dogs in the south, to Mile End in the north, and the Tower of London in the west. The areas of Bethnal Green, Spitalfields, Stepney, and Whitechapel then comprise our proposed compact constituency of Bethnal Green and Stepney.

Let’s look at the three seats that cover bits of Newham.

East Ham

Proposed East Ham constituency

The seat will, on December 2020 numbers, hold 70,902 electors within the present wards of Boleyn, East Ham Central, East Ham North, East Ham South, Green Street East, Little Ilford, Manor Park and Wall End.

West Ham and Beckton

West Ham and Beckton map

70,950 electors, across eight of the current wards: Beckton, Canning Town North, Canning Town South, Custom House, Plaistow North, Plaistow South, Royal Docks and West Ham.

Stratford and Bow

Stratford and Bow map

73,849 electors, across seven wards, of which four are in Newham: Forest Gate North, Forest Gate South, Green Street West, Stratford and New Town.

From Ridley Road in the east to the far edge of Victoria Park in the west is about 5 miles. It is the only constituency in London that crosses a river.

As we know, Newham’s internal ward boundaries are changing and if the Boundary Commission doesn’t want the complication of splitting individual wards across constituencies there will need to be some fiddling around on the margins, but given the constraints of electoral equality and fitting five seats across two boroughs I think this proposal will likely move forwards. 

If you want to submit a response to the Boundary Commission, you can do so at www.bcereviews.org.uk

One Response to “Another view from the boundary”

  1. Alan Griffiths June 14, 2021 at 22:05 #

    They used the present ward boundaires, not the new 2022 ward boundaries.
    Significant for a few hundred homes near Bishops Avenue and Green Street (south of Upton Park station).

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