There is much media coverage this weekend on the splits between Cameron and Clegg and Tory backbench opposition to moving to an elected Second Chamber.
The Observer has an insightful article suggesting that Lib Dem MPs might as a result vote down moves to change constituency boundaries when the final proposals are put to Parliament next year.
Several constituents asked me today when I was out campaigning what this might mean for the future of Ilford South. Here is an update for those constituents and for others including the local and national media of what I wrote in my submission sent to the Boundary Commission for England earlier this month. I wrote:
I set out my own views in my speech to the Boundary Commission Hearing at East Ham Town Hall on Friday 28 October 2011.
I now comment on some of the submissions. Regrettably the very user unfriendly system of on line access has made this difficult. But it appears that very few submissions have supported the proposals of the Boundary Commission with regard to abolishing the Ilford South constituency in its entirety by cutting it into four parts. Having said that I believe there is some support for splitting Ilford South in three parts which would enable the retention of a core new Ilford South based on the town centre as well as additions from Ilford South into the new Ilford North and Barking and Dagenham constituencies.
As I said in October “Ideally I would have preferred minimal change with the retention of most of the existing Ilford South and the loss of only two wards Goodmayes and Mayfield to Barking. However I recognise that there is logic to the Commission proposals to reunite Seven Kings, Newbury and Chadwell into a new Ilford North constituency along with the five existing Ilford North wards of Hainault, Fairlop, Fullwell, Aldborough and Barkingside.”
Seven Kings and Chadwell wards and parts of Newbury ward have had a long association with Ilford North. I fought Ilford North in the 1983 General Election and as well as Seven Kings and Chadwell it also included part of the existing Newbury Ward. Newbury should not be separated from Seven Kings as some are suggesting. It has no association with Woodford. It is logical that it is put together with the Seven Kings and Chadwell wards into the new Ilford North constituency. I therefore oppose the proposal by the Conservative party and Lee Scott MP to move Newbury away from Ilford and Seven Kings into a new Wanstead of Woodford constituency.
Although I would prefer to keep all or at least the vast majority of the existing Ilford South together I recognise that this is not possible and I am therefore reluctantly accepting the logic of the Boundary Commission proposal for the new Ilford North constituency.
As regards the four town centre wards there is almost no support for the Boundary Commission proposal to split Ilford Town Centre into two separate constituencies. As I pointed out in my original submission “The Ilford town centre wards have always been in the same constituency both in the period before 1945 when there was only one Ilford constituency and in the period since 1945”
There is no public support for the Boundary Commission proposal to put part of historic Ilford, the wards of Loxford and Clementswood, into East Ham and another part of historic Ilford, the wards of Valentines and Cranbrook, into a new Wanstead and Woodford constituency.
There is no public support to scrap Ilford South and break up the historic community relationship of the four town centre wards. Ilford Railway station and Ilford Bus garage and Valentines Park and Valentines Mansion are in Ilford not in Wanstead and Woodford. Ilford Police station, Ilford High Road, Ilford Hospital Chapel. Redbridge Borough Town Hall and Ilford Lane are in Ilford not in East Ham.
There are also no submissions supporting the absurd proposal to split the Ilford Exchange Shopping Centre into two different constituencies with different MPs in Woodford and East Ham.
I am pleased that a number of other submissions including that from the Labour Party agree with my own proposal to keep the four town centre historic Ilford Wards Cranbrook, Clementswood, Loxford and Valentines together in a continuing Ilford South constituency together with the neighbouring Redbridge wards of Clayhall and Wanstead and the Newham wards of Little Ilford and Manor Park.
The Boundary Commission proposal itself joins Manor Park and Little Ilford with the Great Ilford wards of Loxford and Clementswood. This proposal would also keep that link but on a wider basis. It would also restore the link between both sides of Wanstead flats and put both parts of Aldersbrook in the same constituency by joining Wanstead Ward and Manor Park and Little Ilford Wards together. This returns to the position as it was before the separation of these areas into different boroughs and constituencies in 1964. It would also link Wanstead Park with Wanstead Park Road which had been separated after the building on the A406 North Circular Road. Both sides of Wanstead Park would be in the same constituency by the joining of Wanstead with Cranbrook and Valentines.
The new proposed Ilford South would ensure that all Ilford Town centre wards are all in the same constituency. It also ensures limited change to the existing Ilford North and that Ilford South continues to exist as a parliamentary constituency. As a result the proposed new East Ham constituency would no longer have to cover two Boroughs and would be entirely in Newham Borough. Consequent changes would result in continuation of Chingford and Woodford Green constituency substantially on existing boundaries and a new Leyton and Stratford constituency.
Most importantly Ilford retains two constituencies North and South as it has had since 1945.