Backlash to Chalvey move could force Boundary Commission to reconsider plans
There has been a muted backlash to plans by the Boundary Commission to transfer Chalvey from Slough to Windsor, but a number of the (relatively few) responses received were simply disparaging towards Slough.
The Boundary Commission has published comments submitted during the first consultation of its plans to revised English parliamentary constituencies on Monday and they show two things: first, that very few actually across Slough and Windsor were interested enough to comment; and, second, that those who did rejected the plan to move Chalvey ward to Windsor by a margin of 2:1.
Slough Labour, supported by UKIP, wrote to object to the proposals, in the official response from Slough Borough Council. It proposed moving wards from Bracknell to Windsor to address the shortfall in Windsor’s electorate, suggesting this would maintain the community identity and integrity of the Slough seat.
Slough Conservatives, as we learned in November, disagreed. The Conservatives’ submitted that Chalvey had close historical ties with Eton having previously been joined in the same constituency. They also suggested that Chalvey and Windsor were not as cut off from each other as had been suggested by Labour.
Slough Conservatives’ submission was not the lone voice in support of the Boundary Commission for England (BCE) proposal, but most comments received demanded that the plan be reconsidered. In total there were 37 submission opposing the Chalvey move against 8 in favour. Apathy, it seems, rules.
Adding Chalvey to our district will just bring shame. Chalvey is a dump, the place has such a huge DRUG and prostitution problem not to mention housing crisis with many homes housing more people than it can cope with
Opposition to the BCE proposal was evenly distributed between Slough and Windsor, with 17 each, plus two submissions from Maidenhead and one from Bracknell.
Windsor contributions were surprisingly hostile, and of doubtful value to BCE deliberations.
One Windsorian commented:
“Adding Chalvey to our district will just bring shame. Chalvey is a dump, the place has such a huge DRUG and prostitution problem not to mention housing crisis with many homes housing more people than it can cope with, who will have to then foot this bill when and if this districts change comes into place. Us who live in Windsor. Our taxes, council tax etc will rise and I for one will reject any thought of this as all taxes are at a stupidly high level as it is, I will NOT pay for drug users to go to “rehab” and live of hard working people. This is a stupid idea and I hope and pray it does NOT go ahead”.
The animosity between Chalvey and Windsor residents is not entirely one-sided, however, and the Chalvey Community Forum was keen to note the “slur” made against it some years ago when Chalvey was apparently made out of bounds to pupils at Eton.
“Chalvey however is seen by Windsor (and other wealthy areas) as a convenient place to which to locate their problem tenants. This plays into the hands of unscrupulous landlords who buy up property to serve this demand, then allow it to become substandard. Although such tenants’ rent is covered by their “home” borough, Chalvey is left to deal with the anti social behaviour, littering, demands on children’ services, etc, for which Slough Council has to meet the costs”.
There were other submissions focused around the impact on Council Tax, demand for services, and even post codes, that are all irrelevant for consideration of constituencies. Most, however, concentrated on the dominance of Labour in Slough and the Conservatives in Windsor and how this would affect Chalvey residents. While it was put in many different ways (including some that were less than diplomatic) there was a consensus in support of the view that there was a need for parliamentary representation to focus on the relative deprivation in Chalvey as a key issue rather than a minority group.
The three Chalvey ward councillors wrote a joint response pointing out that 80% of Chalvey residents are from black, minority ethnic (BME) communities, and the number of Muslim residents in Chalvey alone is larger than that of the whole of the Windsor constituency. The latter point was picked up by Slough MP Fiona Mactaggart in her submission. Adam Afriyie, MP for Windsor, did not comment.
As things stand it would seem unlikely that the Boundary Commission will not reconsider its proposal before it published its final recommendations later this year.
The BCE published its initial proposals on 13th September 2016, and consulted on them for 12 weeks. On Monday it published all the representations it received during the consultation, and it is now asking for people’s views on what others have said until 27 March 2017.