Suspicions raised over the carve-up of Thornton Heath

Adrian DennisCROYDON COMMENTARY: Submissions for the review of the borough’s electoral wards closes on Monday. ADRIAN DENNIS, pictured, a former Labour councillor and an alderman of Croydon, has been unimpressed by what he has seen so far

Although there are real practical reasons for reviewing the borough’s ward boundaries – to aim to make them as equal as possible with all councillors represent a similar number of voters – there is always a suspicion of some degree of political advantage being built into submissions by the parties.

Obviously, as someone who has represented Thornton Heath in the past, I would also add that wards in the north of Croydon, and especially Thornton Heath, are misrepresented by these reviews as they only consider electors.

In Thornton Heath, a higher than average proportion of residents are not eligible to be voters, yet they have a disproportionate high demand for the help that councillors and the council can provide. There is a greater demand placed upon councillors in the wards in the north of Croydon than the leafy and more content south.

As I have been responsible for a few boundary submissions in the past, I know it is impossible to recommend new boundaries that will keep everyone happy.

One criteria usually applied is to keep existing community boundaries intact and be logical for local residents within these areas.

What's decided by the Boundary Commission's review could influence  where you vote for the next 10 years

The Boundary Commissioners will set voting areas for a decade

Unfortunately, this time a degree of mischief is suspected, as the council’s (Labour group) proposal does not just address the need to reduce the excessive size of Broad Green ward and under-representation in three southern, Tory wards.

It has taken the opportunity for some councillors to make grabs for bits of neighbouring wards they would like, which have nothing at all to do with a legitimate boundary review requirement.

The proposal to carve off useful bits of Thornton Heath ward that would be liked by some councillors in Bensham Manor and South Norwood wards has not been missed by residents of Thornton Heath.

So far all those resident in the ward who have found out, whether Labour Party members or in other local groups, have unanimously condemned the proposals as (at least) very daft and unacceptable.

For example, the moving of the ward boundary to the High Street and taking the railway station, Tescos and many blocks of flats into Bensham Manor is angering all those who actually live in the area. It is seems as a blatant grab for the successful community activities in the ward, such as the Thornton Heath Festival, and the town centre itself.

They justify this by reference to the wider Thornton Heath postal district, which extends westwards, and by renaming Bensham Manor as Thornton Heath Central. To justify the existing ward being renamed Thornton Heath North they propose renaming Selhurst as Thornton Heath South.

The fact that neither Selhurst nor Bensham Manor has ever been Thornton Heath is irrelevant to them, they keep referring to the post code. Yet the Post Office still believes we are in Surrey, and is just as out of touch as those proposing the new boundaries.

An even more ridiculous proposal from those in charge of Croydon South Constituency Labour Party, which proposed the complete carve up and disposal of Thornton Heath ward, is fortunately unlikely to get anywhere. But it does go to show that Thornton Heath ward Labour Party members have upset the borough-wide Labour Group and others in recent years.

Can’t imagine how. Surely not for speaking up when mistakes were being made.

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This entry was posted in 2018 council elections, Bensham Manor, Broad Green, Croydon Council, Selhurst, Thornton Heath, West Thornton and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Suspicions raised over the carve-up of Thornton Heath

  1. Sadly, and somewhat surprisingly, former Councillor Adrian Dennis does not actually seem to understand where the real Thornton Heath is! Maybe he spent to [sic] much time in the town hall?
    Thornton Heath (the real place rather than the numbers driven ward boundary line) extends to London Road of course, and includes places such as Thornton Heath Bus Station, Thornton Heath Library, Croydon University Hospital, Thornton Heath, and of course Thornton Heath Pond, where the original village of Thornton Heath first developed!

  2. Paul is either confused about where the Thornton Heath community area is or is repeating the somewhat smug and patronising smokescreen to hide what is actually intended.

    Whilst it is true that many hundreds of years ago the original Thornton Heath area was around the pond, since 1862 when the London to Brighton Railway station opened, a Thornton Heath township developed along and ‘uphill’ of the High Street, to the north of the railway line. This extended along the main road which is now known as Parchmore Road to Whitehorse Road, and included the Beulah Road local centre and Whitehorse Lane.

    Bensham Manor, which is a largely residential suburban area, was only in the wider Thornton Heath postal delivery area. These postal districts were marked on maps and it is true that many people take their postal district to be where they live. However, if we follow that logic we are still in Surrey, which is of course untrue.

    Community areas are not about what postal delivery zone you are in, it is about a sense of place and belonging. That is why those of us who live and/or work in the Thornton Heath ward know that Paul’s daft proposals make absolutely no sense and in particular believe that extending the Bensham Manor ward to include most of the Thornton Heath High Street is highly divisive. There is a clear grab for the District Centre here which has absolutely nothing to do with the boundary review, indeed it goes against its criteria.

    I have been a resident of Thornton Heath for nearly 40 years, brought up my family here and was proud to represent the area as a Councillor for 20 years, and continue to be an active member of many organisations within the area. I understand my area and what constitutes Thornton Heath very well. Paul and Labour Group members who are behind this proposal are not residents and few have even spent much time here, and clearly do not understand where the community lies.

    For them to say we do not know where we live is not just patronising it is insulting and clearly a cover up for their ulterior motives.

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