Greenwich faces being represented by two different MPs if new constituencies proposed by the Boundary Commission get the final go-ahead.
Seats across London will be shaken up, with most constituencies crossing borough boundaries. But the most dramatic local changes will be felt in SE10, where west Greenwich and the town centre will join a new “Deptford and Greenwich” seat, along with all of Blackheath, and stretching as far west as Millwall FC’s ground in Bermondsey.
East Greenwich – Peninsula ward – will remain with most parts of Charlton in a new Woolwich seat, extending from the Royal Naval College to the Greenwich borough boundary at Thamesmead.
Southern parts of Charlton remain in Eltham constituency, which expands to take in parts of Sidcup and Welling.
None of this affects the boroughs themselves – just the MPs. The full details follow – maps are courtesy of the Greater London Authority and represent who sits in each council ward.
The new Woolwich seat is the simplest one to describe – it’s most of the riverside parts of Greenwich borough, apart from from the centre of Greenwich itself. Got that?
In council ward terms, that’s Peninsula, Charlton, Woolwich Riverside, Woolwich Common, Plumstead, Glyndon, Abbey Wood and Thamesmead Moorings. From west to east, that’s the side fence of the Royal Naval College down to the borough boundary at Thamesmead.
What’s missing? Half of Greenwich. Blackheath also sailes off into the sunset.
Good for: Labour politicians looking for a super-safe seat.
Bad for: Greenwich borough politicians wondering where the best-known “royal” bit of the borough has gone, anyone who thinks Thamesmead should have a single MP like it does now.
See that Eltham seat? It gets bigger, stretching into Bexley borough to take in bits of Welling, Blackfen and Sidcup. These are true-blue Tory strongholds – one of the Bexley wards used to be in ex-PM Edward Heath’s seat – so what’s a marginal Labour seat now suddenly swings quite a bit the other way.
Or, in council speak, Kidbrooke with Hornfair, Eltham North, Eltham South, Eltham West, Middle Park & Sutcliffe, Coldharbour & New Eltham and Shooters Hill from Greenwich, and Falconwood & Welling and Blackfen & Lamorbey from Bexley. It now stretches awkwardly from the Blackheath Cator estate in the west right across to Welling High Street in the east, as well as from parts of Charlton in the north to the tip of Chislehurst in the south.
What’s perplexing? Just why on earth are bits of Charlton still in a seat called “Eltham”?
Good for: Tories.
Bad for: Bexley council tax payers who hoped they could ignore the lot over the border.
Which leaves us with Deptford and Greenwich – although there’s not very much of the latter in this new concoction. This is basically the current Lewisham Deptford seat, minus some of the Lewisham bit and plus some of Greenwich. But while Greenwich is split between two seats, Deptford will have one MP for the first time in the modern era, and most of Blackheath – save for a chunk of the Cator Estate – will also be united.
In council wards, that’s New Cross, Telegraph Hill, Evelyn, Ladywell, Brockley and Blackheath from Lewisham and Blackheath Westcombe and Greenwich West from Greenwich. Or Millwall FC’s The Den over to Blackheath Standard, heading south almost as far as Nunhead Cemetery and Ladywell Fields.
What’s missing? Half of Greenwich, Lewisham town centre, any connection between the east and west of the seat. Try getting from Brockley to Greenwich or Blackheath by bus.
Good for: Lewisham Labour types, who are probably wetting themselves laughing. Lib Dems and Greens will perk up a bit – there’s votes for them around these parts.
Bad for: Tories – even slimmer pickings here – and Greenwich Labour types, who’ll have to align themselves with a very different local party in Lewisham.
The bulk of the rest of Lewisham borough goes into a new Lewisham & Catford seat, while the area around Forest Hill and Sydenham is packed off to Dulwich & Sydenham. There are also new seats of Erith and Bexleyheath & Sidcup to get your head around.
If the new parliamentary seats look weird – well, that’s because most of them are. But they’re lines on a map – and however you draw it, there’ll always be something odd, mainly because they’re built out of council wards which reflect a need for tidy election planning instead of living, breathing communities. That Deptford and Greenwich seat would look less weird if it included the centre of Lewisham (Lewisham Central) in it, but then something else would have to go and then we’d all be wondering what Hither Green was doing there.
The new divide would mean every time I cycle to the shops at Blackheath Standard, which is less than a mile away, I’ll pass through three constituencies. Dividing Greenwich sounds daft – but in the long term, will Deptford, with the massive Convoys Wharf controversy right on a borough border, benefit from a single MP?
What really matters is who represents you, and if they can do a good job – and once the seats are finalised, those personalities will settle into place in the months and years ahead. Where boundaries really count, though, are in the boroughs – and it makes me wonder what ruthless changes could be unleashed if a change were to come in the future…