Egham Parliamentary Boundary
The Boundary Commission for England (BCE) issued its initial proposals last August for revising the Parliamentary constituencies across the country to make them more even in terms of electorates. The initial BCE proposal moved Egham Town (& Egham Hythe) out of the Weybridge & Runnymede Parliamentary constituency and added them to a new Windsor County one.
The BCE has now launched a secondary public consultation on its initially proposed map of constituencies, open now until Monday 4th April 2022. The Commission received over 34,000 responses from the public during its first consultation last year & they’re inviting more people to have their say in their current secondary consultation. The original comments are now available to view by area, along with the proposals for constituencies, on the consultation website (bcereviews.org.uk). The current review will conclude with their formal report and recommendations in June 2023. Despite responses to date, including several stating that the Egham proposal was unworkable on community grounds, the current BCE proposal still has Egham moved into the Windsor constituency.
Responses can be submitted online, by letter, by email or provided in person at a public hearing. They are now holding 32 public hearings across the country during this consultation, where you can have your say in person. In the South East region the hearings will be heard in Crawley (14-15/3), Portsmouth (17-18/3), Reading (21-22/3) & Ashford Kent (24-25/3) - details & bookings on the bcereviews.org.uk website.
Please get you comments in at your earliest. opportunity at their website - . Previous comments from our MP, RBC & a host of individuals can be viewed on the BCE website (www.bcereviews.org.uk) by entering your postcode, clicking on View Comments & search Egham.
Initial response from ERA in the summer of 2021:
Dear Sir or Madam,
The Egham Residents’ Association notes with much concern the plan from the BoundaryCommission for England (BCE) in its initial 2023 Review proposals to remove the Egham Townward of Runnymede Borough Council from the Runnymede and Weybridge parliamentaryconstituency and to add it to the existing Windsor constituency. Indeed, in this, our initialresponse, we wish formally to lodge an objection to it.
We wish to stress at the outset that although we believe everything we say in this submissionapplies also to the Egham Hythe ward of Runnymede Borough Council (RBC), our association’smembership is tied to the Egham Town ward, and we do not seek or claim in any way to speak forthe electors of the Egham Hythe ward.
In stating an objection, we are motivated mainly by conviction that the administration ofgovernance in Egham Town would be better served by its remaining in the Runnymede andWeybridge seat than by its being shifted into the Windsor constituency.
At present, and for the past 24 years, we have been in a constituency that covers the whole of theborough in which Egham Town is situated. We see clear advantage for our town in this because itmeans that our MP has to work closely with officers and councillors on our local council.
If we were to be switched to the Windsor constituency, our new MP would be dealing primarilywith Windsor and Maidenhead Council, and only a small fraction of his/her time would be devotedto the affairs of Runnymede Council.
It is surely easily and hence generally understood that it is desirable in principle to align theboundaries of parliamentary seats as much as possible with those of borough/district councils.
This is a means of reinforcing local identity and avoiding administrative duplication and confusion.
In keeping with this, does it not make more sense in the case of the Runnymede and Weybridgeconstituency to keep the Egham Town ward (and the Egham Hythe ward) in it, and to remove fromit one or more of the ‘Weybridge’ wards (Weybridge Riverside, Weybridge St George’s Hill, andOatlands and Burwood Park) that belong to Elmbridge Council?Here lies a potential solution that would cause pleasure at both the Egham end of the Runnymedeand Weybridge constituency and the Weybridge end. We are sure that many of the Weybridgeelectors who currently find themselves voting in the Runnymede and Weybridge seat would preferto do so in the Esher and Walton constituency that lies entirely in Elmbridge.
Another advantage for Egham in remaining in the Runnymede seat is that it is roughly of the samesize as Chertsey and Addlestone, the other two towns in both the borough and the constituency.
In other words, no part of the constituency dominates the others.
By contrast, if we were added to the Windsor constituency, the town from which it takes its namewould be dominant, and we fear Egham would become a mere appendage or side-show.
The already peculiar shape of the Windsor seat would be made even more odd, moreover. Havinglooked at the proposals map for the whole of the South East we have spotted only two proposedconstituencies with a comparably strange perimeter. We are reminded of the infamousMassachusetts ‘salamander’ (but we are NOT suggesting that gerrymandering comes into this inany way, as we respect and recognise that the BCE is a wholly independent body).
It would be more coherent geographically, but not administratively, to add the Englefield Greenwards (East and West) of Runnymede Council - rather than the Egham Town and Egham Hythewards - to the Windsor constituency. We wish immediately to add that we are not proposing this.
But has the BCE considered this option?Further to this, the current proposal would remove part of Runnymede meadows - where MagnaCarta was sealed - from the Runnymede and Weybridge seat. It would put a question mark, ifpursued, against the right of the constituency to retain its present name.
The idea of Egham being put into a seat (for the first time ever) that would not be entirely inSurrey, and would indeed be largely outside our county, is also difficult for some people toswallow. Our town is proud to be part of Surrey, and although that would of course remain thecase, there is a sense that this long-standing tie would be weakened.
Having looked at the figures for the 2019 general election, it appears to us that Surrey, on its ownand without any cross-county excursions, would qualify for an additional, 12th, seat under thecriteria given to the BCE. Might a possible solution lie here - though we fully accept that 12doesn’t go into 11 (districts and boroughs).
We await further proposals from the BCE with much interest.
Egham Residents’ Association