Local Tories back Greenwich constituency split

November 8, 2011 by  

Proposals to split Greenwich between two different constituencies have received the backing of local Conservatives.

The plan to divide the town between two new constituencies forms part of the Boundary Commission’s review, which was initiated by the Government to reduce the number of MPs and make constituencies more uniform in size.

Under the proposals, west Greenwich would join a new parliamentary constituency called Deptford & Greenwich, and east Greenwich would join a new constituency simply called Woolwich.

A statement on the Conservatives website says:

“Greenwich Conservatives would strongly encourage residents to support the Boundary Commission’s proposals which seem to us to strike the right balance and give poorer communities a stronger voice.”

Current MP, Nick Raynsford, has opposed the plans, calling them “nonsense” in an article for this website and speaking out against them at last month’s public hearings held at Lewisham Town Hall.

Labour’s alternative plan would see the existing Greenwich and Woolwich constituency retained, with the addition of the rest of Blackheath and also the Kidbrooke and Hornfair ward.

The closing date to comment on the Boundary Commission’s proposals is December 5th.

Councillors respond on Twitter…

Greenwich West councillor, Matthew Pennycook, and Eltham North councillor, Nigel Fletcher, responded to this post via Twitter.

Comments

8 Responses to “Local Tories back Greenwich constituency split”

  1. Will on November 9th, 2011 1:36 pm

    It’s good that the number of consituences is being reduced, but I find it outrageous that sitting MPs and pontential candidates engage in this discussion. They are clearly jockeying for position and trying to mold the constituencies to maximise the likelihood of being elected. At a time when politicians’ credibility is at an all time low they should be very careful about expressing opnions that make the electorate look like a means to their own ends.

  2. Paul Webbewood on November 10th, 2011 8:12 pm

    It is a truth universally acknowledged that any party activist who comments on boundary changes will only suggest anything likely to help his or her party. There is nothing shameful in this provided they are open about it. My party, the Liberal Democrats, is content with the Boundary Commission’s (BC) proposals for South-East London mainly because they seem OK for Simon Hughes’s seat in Bermondsey.

    Currently Greenwich and Bexley form a block of five seats, three held by Labour and two by the Conservatives. Under the new arrangements these will reduce to around 4.2 seats. On 2010 voting patterns three of these would probably have been Tory and 1.2 Labour. No wonder the blues support the BC while the reds are fuming.

    For Greenwich there are two main schemes on the table, the BC’s initial proposals and the Labour Party alternative. In my view both have strengths and weaknesses and neither is clearly better than the other. But I think the BC shades it.

    Labour has undoubtedly proposed an attractive seat for the north-western part of the Borough which would overcome some of the problems with the BC’s “Deptford and Greenwich“. It would keep all of SE10 together, reunite the Hornfair area with the rest of SE7 and would be popular around Blackheath Village, where the Borough boundary is not particularly community-friendly. However its weakness is its eastern boundary which would fall too close to Woolwich Town Centre. For while Labour accuse the BC of butchering SE10 its own proposals would butcher SE18 by excluding Glyndon ward. The platforms of Woolwich Arsenal station almost reach it. It contains Greenwich Community College and Greenwich Mosque. Its natural home is in the same constituency as the rest of Woolwich.

    Most people in Eltham would probably want the five most southerly wards in Greenwich to be kept together. Both BC and Labour would achieve this. However these wards are far too small to form a constituency on their own. The alternatives are either to join with Falconwood and Blackfen wards of Bexley Borough to the east (BC) or with Glyndon and Plumstead to the north (Labour). It is not very controversial to point out that Eltham enjoys better east-west transport links than it does north-south. This might suggest that the BC’s proposals are preferable, especially as Bexley Borough will be just too big for two constituencies and so its two ”spare” wards will probably need to join up with Greenwich. The BC’s “Eltham” seat is saucer shaped while Labour’s “Eltham and Plumstead” would stretch from the Thames to the boundaries of Chislehurst and would resemble a watering can with a very elongated spout.

    In the north-east of the Borough Labour’s proposals have the merit of keeping together the Greenwich and Bexley sides of Thamesmead. The BC doesn’t manage this but instead it puts the six wards in this area together in the same constituency rather than splitting them three ways as Labour would prefer.

    As Chris Roberts could confirm, Glyndon ward is one of Labour’s strongest areas in Greenwich. Eltham MP Clive Efford has lusted after it for almost as long as Mike Baldwin lusted after Deirdre in Coronation Street. It remains to be seen whether he is more successful in getting his wicked way.

  3. Indigo on November 10th, 2011 9:15 pm

    The MP for Greenwich & Woolwich often lays claim to the moral high ground – see his input on the Localism bill. Which makes it all the more strange when you see him (in a letter to a constituent) describing the Thomas Tallis School’s new gymnastics hall as an “Olympic legacy” when it is nothing of the sort. It is a PFI project, ie the Borough will be paying for it for years to come and might even have to sell assets to keep up the payments (as has happened elsewhere in the Borough). And I think that he should have visited post-riot Woolwich – everyone else in relevant public office managed to do so.

  4. Darryl on November 10th, 2011 9:50 pm

    I need counselling after reading Paul Webbewood’s closing paragraph…

    The Labour proposals are from David Gardner, who’s the chairman of the Greenwich & Woolwich constituency party (as well as the boss of the Charlton Society), and has a track record in getting constituency changes, well, changed:
    http://www.economist.com/blogs/bagehot/2011/11/big-british-boundary-review

  5. John Fahy on November 11th, 2011 10:49 am

    I suspect Paul Webberwood has not seen the excellent sports facilities at either Crown Woods or Thomas Tallis. They are excellent facilities which most people would be proud of. Not funded through PFI but by the Olympic Legacy contribution by the Council. I just love the watering can comment. Sums up the Boundary Commission proposals.

  6. Indigo on November 11th, 2011 1:55 pm

    Crown Woods and Thomas Talls sports facilities are both PFI projects.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/nol/shared/bsp/hi/pdfs/08_07_2010listofschoolserrors.pdf

    (Information from the Department for Education during the last Labour Government)

  7. John Fahy on November 11th, 2011 5:30 pm

    Of course both schools were built through PFI. The Sports Halls were not

  8. Indigo on November 11th, 2011 6:44 pm

    There is no secret about this: it is reported all over the web. Crown Woods and Thomas Tallis – including the sports facilities – were rebuilt under the Building Schools for the Future (BSF) project that started in 2004 but the actual work was done by developers under a PFI arrangement. Greenwich Council’s investment in the sports facilities is reported as £1,150,000. That isn’t an Olympic legacy, that’s a liability. The Council might have to sell assets to keep up the repayments.