CROYDON 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.
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.
- Click here for our report on the council’s flawed submission to the Boundary Commissioners
- Read the council’s submission to the Boundary Commissioners here
- Click here to visit the Local Government Boundary Commission website and submit your own comments
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