This weekend is your last chance to make sure that Charlton continues to share an MP with Greenwich & Woolwich, as a consultation into new constituencies comes to an end.
The Greenwich & Woolwich constituency – currently represented by Labour’s Matt Pennycook – has so far come out of a boundary review largely unscathed.
But neighbouring Eltham is due to expand to take in Chislehurst, something which has caused disquiet among Labour activists in the seat, who fear this would mean curtains for its local MP, Clive Efford.
A handful of streets in the south of SE7 already come under the Eltham seat, and The Charlton Champion understands that party activists are lobbying the Boundary Commission to change its plans so the seat includes the Charlton ward too – bumping up the Labour vote while separating this area from its neighbours.
This latest review is the third attempt in a decade to redraw the parliamentary map to take into account changing populations. While past reviews tried to cut the number of MPs, this one keeps the figure at 650 – meaning London gains two new seats. In addition, most seats must now have between 69,724 and 77,062 electors – a significant change from more flexible rules in the past.
Under the plans, Eltham would lose the strongly Labour Shooters Hill ward but gain two Bromley wards – the marginal Mottingham and Chislehurst North, which has two Tory councillors; and the staunchly Conservative Chislehurst ward. The seat would be renamed Eltham & Chislehurst and have 74,179 electors.
Greenwich & Woolwich, however, shrinks to take into account the area’s growing population, losing Glyndon ward, leaving it with 69,824 electors – just 100 more than the minimum. Glyndon goes to Erith & Thamesmead along with Shooters Hill, uniting most of Plumstead under that seat.
Past reviews would have Greenwich & Woolwich split up altogether – with one proposal suggesting an “Eltham & Charlton” seat, separating Charlton ward from its two larger neighbours altogether.
“It’s understandable that people in Eltham are deeply unhappy about the proposals, but keeping Greenwich, Charlton and Woolwich together is for the best, as is uniting Plumstead in Erith & Thamesmead,” one Labour activist told The Charlton Champion.
“There are close historic and present links between Greenwich, Charlton and Woolwich which there simply aren’t with Eltham – it makes sense to keep the riverside communities together.”
There are no direct public transport links between the Charlton ward and Eltham, while links for shopping and leisure are with the Charlton retail parks, Woolwich and Blackheath rather than Eltham High Street. Commuter links are with the Greenwich-Woolwich rail line and North Greenwich tube rather than the Bexleyheath line which serves Eltham.
Historically, Charlton was always linked with Greenwich for local government, while much of its early development was connected to the barracks at Woolwich.
Furthermore, keeping Charlton linked with its two bigger neighbours opens up the likelihood that the streets currently marooned in the Eltham constituency (these streets are known as polling district KH1) would be returned to Greenwich & Woolwich in the future. This is a separate process from the review of council ward boundaries, which places most of the SE7 area in two wards.
If you live in Charlton ward and want to stay in Greenwich & Woolwich – or if you live in the streets that come under Eltham and want polling district KH1 to come under Greenwich & Woolwich instead – tell the Boundary Commission for England at www.bcereviews.org.uk by Monday.
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