Following extensive consultation, to which BelSoc has contributed, the Local Boundary Commission for England has published revised draft recommendations for ward boundaries in Camden. The new recommendations contain some significant changes to previous drafts, and so the Commission decided to run an additional consultation exercise on the changes. That exercise closed on 11th November.
In light of a great deal of community evidence, the latest draft recommends that the whole area covered by the Netherhall Neighbourhood Association (Netherhall Gardens, Maresfield Gardens and Nutley Terrace) should be in Belsize ward and not split between Belsize and Frognal wards.
The Commission now also proposes that the boundary between Belsize and Haverstock wards should run to the rear of the properties in Chalcot Gardens rather than down the centre of Englands Lane. The evidence which the Commission received suggested that Englands Lane was the main shopping street and community hub for that part of Belsize ward and the initial proposed ward of Belsize would have divided this community.
The Commission recommends that the boundary between Gospel Oak and Belsize wards will run directly along Rosslyn Hill and Haverstock Hill so that the Aspern Grove/Russell Nurseries estate will be in Gospel Oak ward. The Commission observed that “this estate is managed alongside other Gospel Oak estates via the Gospel Oak District Management Committee. Its inclusion in Gospel Oak ward will provide those electors with more effective and convenient local government representation.”
As for numbers of councillors, the proposal is that Belsize, Gospel Oak and Haverstock wards will each have three; Hampstead Town will have two. Swiss Cottage ward will no longer exist and a new South Hampstead ward will be created in that area, with three councillors.
In reaching its final recommendations, the Commission aims to propose a pattern of wards for Camden which will provide electoral equality in the sense that each local councillor ought to represent a similar number of voters, to the extent that this is possible. It also considers community identity, aiming to reflect the interests of local communities and community links. The boundaries need to be easily identifiable and should be designed to help Camden to deliver effective and convenient local government. BelSoc’s ideas have in the main been taken on board and so we are in broad agreement with these latest recommendations (there is no perfect solution).
The final recommendations will be published on 2 February 2020. After that, new boundaries must be approved by Parliament and will come into effect in time for the local elections in 2022. Details can be found at: www.lgbce.org.uk/all-reviews/greater-london/greater-london/camden. The map shows the names of the current proposed wards and their boundaries but these may change again in the final recommendations.