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proposed southgate and wood green constituency 938px

The proposed Southgate & Wood Green constituency differs radically from the existing Enfield Southgate seat and also from the Enfield & Barnet East constituency that was proposed in June last year (click on map to enlarge)

Updated proposals for new parliamentary boundaries would place Palmers Green in a long, thin and strangely misshapen constituency that stretches from the M25 in the north as far as Turnpike Lane in the south - but doesn't include Winchmore Hill!

The new recommendations for redrawing London constituencies, released yesterday, have been developed by the Boundaries Commission for England on the basis of extensive consultation feedback responding to the commission's first set of proposals, which were published last summer. Like the 2021 proposals, the commission has had to work on the basis of current law, which stipulates that ironing out variations in the number of voters per constituency should take precedence over paying attention to boundaries between boroughs. Hence the proposal for a constituency that includes some wards from Enfield and others from Haringey.

Viewing the proposals from a purely N13 perspective, we find addresses split between Southgate & Wood Green and a modified Edmonton constituency. The latter now has a bulge protruding west of the Great Cambridge Road, taking in N13 addresses in the recently created Highfield Ward. This ward extends to the north of Hedge Lane (Ash Grove, Firs Lane etc), but also south of the long stretch of Hedge Lane which is east of the New River - so Connaught Gardens, Munster Gardens, the bottom end of Hazelwood Lane and the triangular area with the Cambridge Roundabout at its tip. More unexpectedly, another ward which moves into Edmonton is Winchmore Hill, with the result that three streets in N13 running north from Fox Lane find themselves in Edmonton: Caversham Avenue, Burford Gardens and Cranley Gardens.

The reasoning behind the changed proposals is set out in a 136-page document on the Boundary Commission's website. On the website you can also find a huge collection of responses to the June 2021 proposals and to the initial consultation (far too much to actually read, I'm afraid, but you can dip into it). There's discussion from many perspectives, including community and religious links between various areas and on whether or not the A5 should be an uncrossable barrier (the answer to that seems to be Yes, but the same clearly doesn't go for the extremely wide A406 - though I have to concede that from a historical perspective Watling Street is much more important than the North Circular Road). The commissioners make a brief reference to a debate about whether Cool Oak Lane presents an appropriate link across the Welsh Harp reservoir - I didn't have time to delve into this question, but I'm sure it's fascinating. There's also the question of how many MPs should represent the Orthodox Jewish community (this can't be a legitimate point surely, as MPs are supposed to represent everyone in their constituency, not just members of a particular community?)

proposed new southgate and east barnet constituency 700pxUnder the Boundary Commission's 2021 proposals, Palmers Green would have been part of an Enfield & Barnet East constituency (click on the map to enlarge)

On the Enfield Dispatch website, James Cracknell reports opposition from Enfield Conservatives to the proposed Enfield & Wood Green constituency. Curiously, though from an admittedly cursory reading, it appears that it was representations from the Conservatives that scuppered last year's proposal for an Enfield & Barnet East constituency, which is what led to the alternative Southgate & Wood Green concept. They argued that communities in the east of Barnet were brought together, not divided, by the East Coast Main Line running between New Southgate and New Barnet and should therefore be in the same constituency, and also that there was a strong connection between Southgate and Wood Green because they are both on the Piccadilly Line (so is Hounslow West). Well, certainly in the southernmost part of Enfield Southgate constituency the link to Wood Green is extremely strong (especially since the A406, in contrast to the supposed effect of the East Coast Main Line, very definitely divides rather than unites communities), but what about the fact that you can come out of Southgate station and walk into the London Borough of Barnet in less than five minutes? In fact, a large part of the hinterlands of both Southgate and Cockfosters stations is in Barnet, so the Enfield & Barnet East concept did make sense. The truth of the matter is that it is impossible to find a clear solution to any of these issues, but that the grossly unfair first-past-the-post system is a much more significant impediment to real democracy.

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Roger Blows's Avatar
Roger Blows posted a reply #6665 10 Nov 2022 14:25
This weird jigsaw is a creature bred by the bean-counters of the Boundary Commission, notionally in the interests of fairness. More correctly, it’s the product of years of bad government of the right and of the left, unable/unwilling to get real about Parliamentary reform. The perpetual spurious defence of First Past the Post is that it protects the sacred bond between the MP and his/her “community.” This distorted elongated little monster surely blows the gaffe on that one.