The Local Government Boundary Commission has published its final recommendations for new electoral arrangements for Wandsworth Council. You will notice little changes from our previous interim report. The Boundary Commission purpose was to take into account the population change in most of the areas of the borough, especially with the huge increase created by the ongoing redevelopment in Nine Elms. The conclusion highlight two major changes: most of the wards have changed shape (the exception being West Hill which remains the same) and sometime names; and the number of councillors (currently 60) should be reduced at 58, with 14 three-councillor wards and 8 two-councillor wards across the borough.
A mix of Labour and Tory proposals for Clapham Junction
As we can see with the comparison below, the Boundary Commission final proposal is a mix between the Tory and Labour proposals (with a pinch of salt from CJAG, as you will see in our next section below).
Most of tall building and future overdevelopment grouped in one ward
In a nutshell, the Commission agreed with the Tories on creating a new ward called Falconbrook, which has probably the advantage of containing most of future developments with Winstanley&York estates but also the (now far ahead) possibility of station redevelopment within Crossrail 2 project. The purpose of this enclosure was reinforced by the Tory proposal to include the Lidl and Boots site, which was fortunately refrained after CJAG’s intervention.
Creation of the Lavender Ward with properties sharing the same character
On the over hand, the Commission agreed with the Labour group to create a new ward called Lavender, which includes most of the Victorian properties built between 1868 and 1896 by developer Alfred Heaver. The submission from the Labour Group makes an interesting reading:
“The homes were built in the same period and are now occupied with a consistent mix of renters and owners. The majority of the people in the ward who work travel down the hill to Clapham Junction station and commute into town each day.
There is a strong – and successful – shared interest in conserving the character of this area. The extraordinary levels of development seen elsewhere in the borough have not been repeated in the Lavender area.”
The part of the station along St John’s Hill, initially proposed in Lavender Ward, has been moved to Falconbrook suggestion. We assume it reflects the view of Cllr Peter Dawson (Northcote ward) which highlighted that it makes more sense to locate the entire station into one single ward. We support the comment.
CJAG instrumental in shaping Clapham Junction wards
The Clapham Junction Action Group took part in the consultation with 2 submissions, reinforcing our interest and commitment for the area. You can read the first one in our article dated August 2019.
In preamble, we disputed the reduction from 60 to 58 councillors. The commission itself is forecasting an increase of voters of nearly 10% by 2025. The London Borough of Wandsworth has the largest electorate in Inner London. When comparing current average electorate per councillors in Wandsworth against similar boroughs in London, we note Wandsworth is only surpassed by Tower Hamlets and on average a councillor in Wandsworth represents 24% more electorate than in the comparable boroughs. However it seems here that money saving greed have overcome democratic consideration. It is worth noticing that the reduction of Councillors from 60 to 58 was supported by the local Tory party (they wrote: “We believe this size would strike a reasonable balance between reduced workloads, a rising population and the needs of representation” – here “balance” resonate as the Council’s favorite wording to justify pushing through their own agenda against the general public interest!).
CJAG advocated for the inclusion of Mossbury Road (a very small residential road between Falcon Road and Lavender Hill) to the Lavender Ward, as being actually a specific encroachment with terrace properties similar to Eccles Road and Lavender Sweep. We were delighted to see that the Commission agreed with us as they wrote in their interim report in January 2020 [p13]:
“We received one submission from the Clapham Junction Action Group stating the similarity between the properties on Mossbury Road and the properties on the other side of Lavender Hill, including Eccles Road and Lavender Sweep. It should be noted that the Conservative Group’s proposed boundary would run behind Parma Crescent and consequently split Eccles Road into a different ward from Mossbury Road and Lavender Sweep. […]
The Commission is adopting the Labour Group’s proposed Shaftesbury & Queenstown ward, with one minor amendment to the west, moving the boundary further east and excluding the housing on Mossbury Road in light of the information from the Clapham Junction Action Group. We consider this proposal to offer the best balance of our statutory criteria and it is forecast to have good electoral equality by 2025. […] As previously discussed, the north-western boundary will go around the houses on Mossbury Road, reflecting the submission we received from the Clapham Junction Action Group.”
However their interim report was not including the land where Lidl and Boots are located, and we wrote to them on that specific aspect. In their final recommendation report, the Commission writes [p12]:
“We also received two submissions [CJAG + Battersea MP De Cordova] querying the boundary between our proposed Lavender and Falconbrook wards, which currently sits on Falcon Lane. Both opposed the boundary as it resulted in commercial premises north of Falcon Lane being the only properties south of the railway line to be included in Falconbrook ward. It was argued that they share community interests with adjoining areas in Lavender ward due to their retail and employment function. We are content to accept this change as the area contains no electors and will not have a negative impact on electoral equality. Therefore, we propose adjusting this boundary just north of Falcon Lane so that it runs along the railway line. We consider this to be a clear and identifiable boundary.”
As we said above, we are happy with the inclusion of the entire train station in the same single ward (Falconbrook). It also disconnect the area of Mossbury road-Lidl-Boots from the high density and tall buildings “opportunity area” as promoted by the Council
Having thought further, it would also have been possible to suggest extending the ward to include Asda, Dorothy Road and Kathleen Street up to Latchmere Road (it would have probably included a fair amount of new voters, with several hundreds), which seems to form a natural boundary (as often preferred by the Commission). However the boundary could be argued as being shaped by Asda and we are also happy with the current choice.
- The full report with interactive map can be seen HERE.