WALTER CRONXITE reports on a significant development which could influence the political control of the borough for decades to come
The Boundary Commissioners have brought forward the publication date for the latest revision to proposals for Croydon’s council electoral wards to Tuesday this week, strongly suggesting that their documents include significant changes from their initial consultation.
The Local Government Boundary Commission for England was supposed to be publishing its proposals on July 11. By bringing the publication date forward by seven days suggests that the Commission is freeing up to time for a further, exceptional extra public consultation on its findings.
The Commissioners are up against the clock: following delays over the initial consultation, Croydon’s political map now needs to be redrawn in time for local elections in May 2018, with the parties still to select candidates for 70 councillor places at the Town Hall.
With the local elections just nine months away, the whole process of change in ward boundaries is already running very late. Any challenge to that process would be very controversial.
But Croydon Tories have put the Commission on notice that they will take action to force an extra, fourth round of consultation on proposals if there are big changes from what the Commissioners put forward previously. Then, the Commission accepted all except the most minor of the Conservative proposals for local boundaries, which senior figures in the Croydon Labour party described as “a Frankenstein’s monster” of a proposal.
“We understand that although it is rare, whenever significant changes are made to a draft scheme it is necessary to hold a fourth and final stage of consultation on the revised draft,” a statement from the Croydon Conservatives says.
“We hope that this will not be necessary here. We believe that the current scheme is very robust and successfully balances the statutory criteria, especially if the adaptations we now propose are accepted.”
Or, in plain English: the proposals we put forward will benefit us greatly, and we’ll have a tantrum if we don’t get our way.
The Tories, under their leader Tim Pollard, also suggest that a further consultation could be used to delay any boundary changes until after the 2018 local elections.
Commission proposals are subject to government Order through Parliament, but are not challenged there.
The decision of the Commission to announce their findings a week early will prompt speculation that there will be big changes in the proposals around Addiscombe and Ashburton, where the Tories’ suggested boundaries carved up the area.
Unusually, there had been a large number of objections to the Commission’s Conservative-inspired proposals.
Five residents’ associations and 188 individuals objected to the Tory configuration that shunted different parts of Addiscombe into Park Hill and the Whitgift estate divisions.
The consultation saw 45 residents support the Tory Addiscombe carve-up.
The consultation also saw 46 residents suggest that part of South Croydon, by Whitgift school and Pampisford Road, should be put into a new ward, though 14 residents supported Conservative/Commission proposals for what could be a marginal ward.
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