Dexter: “we have reached a point of fundamental disagreement” on boundary changes
Slough councillors have been unable to agree on a response to the Boundary Commission’s proposal to move Chalvey from the Slough to Windsor constituency, with Colnbrook’s Cllr Dexter Smith rubbishing suggestions that Chalvey and Windsor have “no connections”.
A Slough Council Working Group convened to agree a response to Boundary Commission proposals to change parliamentary constituency boundaries has failed in its mission.
The Boundary Commission for England (BCE) published initial proposals for new constituency boundaries in England in September 2016, starting a 12 week consultation period that finishes next week. The BCE has proposed moving Chalvey ward from Slough to Windsor constituency in an effort to equalise numbers; Windsor is currently a vastly smaller constituency to Slough.
Following a discussion of the BCE’s recommendation on 27th September the Council established a cross party working group comprising the Leader and five other members (3 Labour; 1 Conservative; and 1 UKIP) to consider the proposals. The group met on three occasions and consists of Colnbrook residents Dexter Smith (Conservative), Madi Bedi (representing Labour in Foxborough) in addition to councillors Swindlehurst (chair, Labour), Munawar (Labour), Coad (UKIP), and Usmani (Labour).
… the Slough Conservative Group cannot give its support to these alternative proposals as we do not see any evidence to suggest that they produce “better outcomes” than the BCE’s Chalvey proposal … I think we have reached a point of fundamental disagreement.
A report for the full Council meeting tonight notes that the working group initially found general agreement that there may be “viable alternatives” to the transfer of the Slough Chalvey Ward into the Windsor Constituency. However the it failed to reach a consensus on the relative merit of alternative proposals and the Conservatives subsequently withdrew their support from the Working Group.
UKIP’s Diana Coad threw her support behind Labour’s proposal that recommended that:
- The Slough Constituency remain unchanged as it is already within the required tolerance for electorate figures
- Either the Bullbrook, Crowthorne or Priestwood and Garth Ward be moved from the larger Bracknell Constituency to the Windsor Constituency as a viable alternative.
Cllr Smith said there was no evidence the alternative proposals would produce “better outcomes” than the BCE’s proposal, suggesting that they would still leave Slough at the high end of the legal population range for constituencies and require a further change at the next review in 5 years’ time that could be avoided. He noted the “good transport links” between Chalvey and Windsor, and historical links under the old Slough and Eton constituency.
The Labour/UKIP proposal will, nevertheless, be submitted to the Boundary Commission.