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  • Gareth Bacon

What the boundary review means for Petts Wood and Knoll Ward

Updated: Jul 27, 2021

If you live in Petts Wood and Knoll Ward, the Boundary Commission is planning to remove you from the Orpington constituency. This will impact on your representation in Parliament.


Here's everything you need to know, including the purpose of the boundary review and its proposals, why I am opposing the recommendation, my proposed alternative and how you can have your say.


About the Boundary Commission


The Boundary Commission is reviewing the 650 parliamentary constituencies across the United Kingdom to ensure they all have roughly the same number of people. With a few exceptions, every parliamentary constituency in the country should include 69,724 to 77,062 voters.


A review of parliamentary boundaries is also long over-due - a number of parliamentary constituencies are now far too small and some far too large. For example, the constituency of Arfon had only 42,215 voters in 2019 whereas there were 99,523 in Bristol West. This means it takes fewer votes to elect an MP in Arfon than Bristol West - and therefore not all votes are equally weighted. That's why constituencies need a similar number of voters.


Due to population changes, England will gain ten parliamentary seats in the review, while Scotland loses two and Wales eight. The number of seats in Northern Ireland will stay the same.


What about the Orpington constituency?


The Orpington constituency is slightly too small with only 69,102 voters (the minimum is 69,724). That means the boundaries of the constituency will need to change to increase the electorate.


The Commission proposes moving Petts Wood and Knoll Ward out of the Orpington constituency and into a new one with, amongst others, Bromley Town and Hayes and Coney Hall. It then proposes to add the Cray Valley West Ward which is currently in the Bromley and Chislehurst constituency. The rest of the Orpington constituency would stay the same. However, I disagree with these proposals.




Why Petts Wood and Knoll Ward should stay


Since the Orpington constituency was created in 1945, Petts Wood and Knoll Ward has been at its heart. Indeed, the ward extends to Orpington High Street itself and there are very strong community links.


Petts Wood functions as a secondary town centre in the constituency. It's collection of shops, leisure facilities and hospitality venues brings in customers from Orpington town centre and vice-versa.


There's also strong historic ties between the two town centres. According to records from the Petts Wood and District Residents Association, it was part of the Orpington Rural District Council as back as a century ago.


Why do local ties matter in constituencies?


As your Member of Parliament, I can attest that constituencies which reflect communities can improve your representation in Westminster. There will be fewer competing interests in the constituency and more shared problems that an MP can work to resolve.


For constituents, this means your MP will be better able to recognise and understand your concerns - and be in a position to act on them. Whereas if boundaries do not reflect communities and multiple representatives could create, rather than resolve, confusion. This is not good for constituents.


Under the current proposals for example, as the Member of Parliament for Orpington I would represent the eastern side of the town centre, but not the west. That means that many residents living in Orpington itself would have to write to the new Bromley MP about concerns in the town centre, not the Orpington MP. This would be a bizarre state of affairs.


That's why I am supporting a counter-proposal.


What's the counter-proposal?


I have written to the Boundary Commission to object to their proposal to move Petts Wood and Knoll Ward from the Orpington constituency. My counter-proposal would be to leave the existing constituency intact and add one polling district (CW4) from Cray Valley West Ward.


These residents have Orpington addresses and I frequently receive correspondence from them as they believe they are already in the constituency. Moving them into the revised constituency would remove this confusion.


This counter proposal would bring the number of voters up to 72,723, meeting the Boundary Commission's requirements.


What can you do?


I am urging Petts Wood and Knoll Ward residents to write to the Boundary Commission to oppose its plan to move the ward outside the Orpington constituency.


You have until August 2nd to have your say, and you can easily do so by visiting the Commission's website: bcereviews.org.uk. If you type in your postcode you can see the Commission's proposals on a map. By clicking 'make a comment' you can access the consultation and express your concerns.


My letter to the Boundary Commission




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