ANALYSIS: Are the Boundary Commission’s proposal good or bad for Colnbrook?
Could the transfer of Chalvey ward from the Slough to join Colnbrook in the Windsor parliamentary constituency offer advantages for the village or should the proposals be resisted?
Does the move of Chalvey to Windsor present an opportunity for Colnbrook? Colnbrook with Poyle has long been isolated within the sprawling Windsor constituency, the lone Slough ward, while detached from the rest of Slough.
Could the transfer of the key Chalvey ward to Adam Afriyie’s constituency help to ensure a better focus on the issues and challenges of the eastern part of the county in Parliament?
And might the transfer of solidly Labour Chalvey to solidly Conservative Windsor help to level the political playing field in both constituencies. Surely that would be an advantage in a time when it seems hardly worth voting if you are red or blue in the wrong place?
The Boundary Commission's difficult task. In the main the Boundary Commission uses local government wards as the building blocks for proposed constituencies. It tries to retain existing constituencies and to take into account geographic factors. It also tries to align local authority and parliamentary boundaries as far as possible - but the vast disparity between the two means that compromises are always inevitable - with wards on the outskirts of local authorities the bargaining chips.
But does the transfer of thousands of people out of the Slough constituency actually create an opportunity of integrating Colnbrook more fully into Slough, completing a process left incomplete 20 years ago?
If the Boundary Commission gets its way the Slough constituency will fall to the lower end of the allowed population range range. Even if Colnbrook’s 3,404 residents were transferred from Windsor to Slough it would still leave the constituency well within the legal limits. By law, every constituency must contain between 71,031 and 78,507 electors.
Might aligning the village’s local authority and parliamentary representation offer a huge advantage to Colnbrook?
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Pursuing it might not suit everybody.
Until 1994 the ward’s three polling districts (Brands Hill: 1,445; Colnbrook: 954; and Poyle: 1,005) were split across three local authority areas and a vocal group of residents managed to lobby to be unified under a single authority. The resulting split between the Slough local authority area and the Windsor constituency has never sat comfortably with some.
The reorganisation of ward boundaries 2 years ago saw lobbying by parish councillors against a Colnbrook and Langley East ward and further integration with Slough. At the same time early discussions about a possible Neighbourhood Plan called closer integration with the Windsor villages.
The Heathrow issue might lead some to conclude that a change would be a bad idea – why choose to have an MP represent you who favours a runway through the parish when you already have an MP vocally opposed to Heathrow’s expansion? But Mr Afriyie is not going change his opposition with the loss of Colnbrook, when so many in Windsor & Maidenhead, let alone Datchet and Wraysbury, would be impacted.
On the other hand, might Slough MP Fiona Mactaggart be forced to reconsider her position if a sizeable proportion of those who would elect her could unseat her?
Whether you think it is good or bad, if you want to make your views known to the Boundary Commission (https://www.bce2018.org.uk) you need to do it online TONIGHT!
Moving Colnbrook with Poyle into Slough could help to integrate the ward better. Many Council initiatives currently stop at Colnbrook, while neither MP has campaigned for Colnbrook issues in recent years.
Slough MP Fiona Mactaggart’s support for a Heathrow runway could be undermined if a sizeable proportion of her constituency were vocally opposed.
The move could help to address the dominance of a single party in both constituencies, Labour in Slough and the Conservatives in Windsor.
It could help to improve engagement in local politics. Being on the edge of the sprawling Windsor constituency, Colnbrook residents have more in common with Foxborough and Langley than Winkfield and Ascot, particularly in current transport issues, and infrastructure projects like Crossrail and HS2.
Would the case of those opposing a Third Runway be weakened? Windsor MP Adam Afriyie has been fighting a Third Runway while Slough’s Fiona Mactaggart has been pushing not only for a runway through the parish but also a replacement incinerator.
Should a Third Runway be built it will form a new physical barrier between Colnbrook with Poyle, Langley and Iver; the future of the ward may be south or east for that reason. Another boundary change in five or ten years could be on the cards.
With Slough already planning to sacrifice Colnbrook’s Green Belt for job creation in Slough, the loss of links with leafier Windsor or semi-rural Bucks might hasten the creeping urbanisation as Colnbrook is swallowed up by Slough’s expansion.