The Boundary Commission 2023 Review of Parliamentary Constituencies in London, may have given the London Region two more seats but it has well and truly curved up the Westminster North parliamentary seat by breaking it up into three by adding the relevant wards into adjoining seats of the North Central and North West London sub-region.
They propose putting Church Street, Little Venice, Maida Vale, Regents Park and Abbey Rd wards into the new parliamentary seat of St John’s Wood & Camden Town While Westbourne, Harrow Rd, Queens Park Wards into a new parliamentary seat called Kensington & Westbourne. And finally they propose putting Bayswater & Lancaster Gate Wards into the new constituency of Westminster & Chelsea East. Leaving nothing that remotely looks like the present Westminster North parliamentary seat.
On first observation, some of the proposed carve up gives us some intriguing bedfellows. The Paddington Wards certainly have many things in common with Kensington North on the other side of the Westway but l am not sure the residents of Church St Ward in Marylebone have much in common with the good of Hampstead! While Marylebone and old Camden Town clearly on different sides of Regents Park have had a connection over the years particularly based on the catchment of old schools.
Consultation is currently open until Monday 2nd August 2021 on these boundaries. I for one will make representations on the matter, if only on the names of the seats being proposed as l always felt the name Westminster North does not help its case to survive as a political entity. As it is not clear whether it is North of Oxford St or North of the Marylebone Rd! It is of course really Paddington & Marylebone and should have been called that in the first instance. As a result l will suggest the new Kensington & Westbourne seat be called Kensington & Paddington instead – who knows Westbourne as such but they will certainly know Paddington! While St John’s Wood and Camden Town should really be called Marylebone and Camden Town. With these name changes you will at least get the old neighbourhoods of Paddington & Marylebone back on the political map.
More importantly the numbers are based on those registered to vote while l think it would be better in the long run to have them based on Census figures. And since we had one only this past March, these would have the latest figures for population size and given most of it was done on-line the figures should be available a lot sooner than with previous Censuses for the decade.
Even with these proposed changes though in the parliamentary seats, they will of course be a fight in the wards of Westminster North for next year’s Local Elections 2022. So bring on Spring 2022 for the locals.
A copy of this blog was published in Westminster Extra edition for the 2nd of July 2021