Last year the Local Government Boundary Commission for England announced a periodic review of ward boundaries in Merton. This is necessary to correct differences in the sizes of the wards arising from the movement of population over the time since the previous review in 1999. From figures published by the Boundary Commission, most of the wards in Mitcham are oversize whereas most of them in Wimbledon are undersize. The exception is Wimbledon Park Ward where a large increase in population is expected when the stadium development is completed.
The current Council has 60 members, being three Councillors from each of 20 wards. In the first part of its review, the Boundary Commission had determined that the new Council will have only 57 Councillors.In our submission to the Commission last year, we had assumed that the reduction in councillors would be achieved by reducing the number of wards from 20 to 19. We suggested that each town and district centre, apart from Wimbledon, should be wholly in one ward and we made suggestions as to how this could be achieved. In the case of Wimbledon town centre we suggested that there should be only two wards, one each side of the railway line, in place of the current three wards.
The Boundary Commission published its draft proposals in December 2019: they would:
- abolish Dundonald Ward, dividing its area between Trinity and Raynes Park Wards;
- create a new Wandle Ward from parts of Wimbledon Park, Trinity and Abbey Wards; this would include the area around the new stadium;
- reduce the number of Councillors from three to two in Hillside and Merton Park Wards and establish the new Wandle Ward as a two-member Ward;
- make relatively smaller changes to the other Wimbledon Wards.
The draft proposals can be viewed on the Boundary Commission website, here.
The Society’s initial reaction to the draft proposals is that a mix of two-member and three-member wards is unnecessary in an urban area. We note (paragraph 74 of the report) that the Boundary Commission commends our submission for identifying the various community hubs in the locality, but we are disappointed that the draft proposals do not follow their own aim of community identity in their plans for the much altered and elongated Trinity Ward.
The Boundary Commission announced in June that they are holding a further consultation in the Colliers Wood area and that the rest of their proposals are now final. It is anticipated that the new wards will be used for the Borough elections in 2022.