Three weeks left to give your views on moving Colnbrook to Spelthorne
An eight week consultation into moving Colnbrook from Adam Afriye’s Windsor constituency to a new cross-county constituency of Spelthorne is nearing completion, with overwhelming support in favour of a move expressed in submissions so far.
View the plan in PDF format here.
The 2013 Review of Parliamentary constituency boundaries will introduce substantial changes. It will reduce the number of constituencies in England from 533 to 502 and make sure that each constituency has a similar number of registered electors. Every mainland English constituency must have a number of registered electors that is no more than 5% lower or higher than the electoral quote of 76,641. Slough currently is well over this figure while Windsor is under.
The Commission’s current proposals – published on 16th October – include a new cross-county boundary constituency in Berkshire and Surrey (Spelthorne) in order “to retain a greater number of existing constituencies unchanged in Surrey”.
Extensive consultation has already been carried out by the Boundaries Commission which claims broad agreement and support for the proposals.
Cllr Dexter Smith reported on the proposal at the last full meeting of the Parish Council on 6th November, noting that it is opposed by both the Slough MP as well as our own Windsor MP. The Council unanimously agreed that it would oppose this transfer when formally consulted. However, Roland Hewson, parish clerk for Colnbrook with Poyle, noted only a few days ago that the Parish Council has not been consulted.
Regardless, the Boundary Commission is clear it is more interested in the views of the general public:
We encourage everyone to use this final opportunity to contribute to the design of the new constituencies – the more public views we hear, the more informed our decisions will be before we make recommendations to the Government.
We ask everyone wishing to contribute to the design of the new constituencies to first look at the revised proposals report, and accompanying maps, before responding to us.
You can find more details of how to respond on our website, or you can write to us direct or email firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also find more details about the rest of the review on our website.
The consultation closes on 10th December 2012. This will be the last chance for people to have their say before the commission prepares its final report and recommendations to Government by 1st October 2013.
What the Boundary Commission say about Colnbrook with Poyle
While the Boundary Commission had set out to treat Berkshire and Surrey as distinct “sub-regions” it was persuaded to consider a cross-county sub-region covering Berkshire and Surrey.
The Boundary Commission’s proposals recommend transferring the Colnbrook with Poyle ward from the Windsor constituency in Berkshire to the Spelthorne constituency. The shortfall in the electoral quota for Windsor would be made up by transferring Cippenham Meadows from Slough to Windsor and returning Foxborough from Windsor to Slough:
This means crossing the county boundary between Berkshire and Surrey and maintains the existing constituency arrangement in which this is an orphan ward. However, the ward has good links to the neighbouring town of Staines and this one move enables the retention of seven constituencies in Surrey without change. We believe this delivers overall a better outcome for Berkshire and Surrey and one that is much more in accordance with the statutory factors to which we may have regard.
This option has the significant advantage of allowing all of the rest of the constituencies in western Surrey to remain in their existing configurations, thereby avoiding any disruption to local ties flowing from the Commission’s proposals for this area. It meets the requirements of Rule 2 and results in a better alignment of the constituencies and local authority external boundaries.
The Commission’s revised proposals appear to be attributed in no small part to a resident of Manchester, Stephen Whittaker. In his submission following the draft proposals he argued that:
“…neither Colnbrook or Poyle were part of Berkshire until a boundary review in 1998 added them to the borough of Slough, and that Poyle, at least, has historic ties with Spelthorne.
… These minor changes allow the Commission to far better comply with the Rule laid down by Parliament. While it does involve one constituency crossing the Berkshire-Surrey border, this border is quite artificial and was only imposed in 1998.”
The Commission says that in both the written and oral representations made in response to these proposals, a substantial level of agreement and consensus was displayed. All political parties that made formal submissions supported the proposals for Berkshire, as did nearly all of the individual submissions from members of the public and the responding local authorities.