Westminster propose controversial boundary shift

Maida Vale, Harrow Road and Queen’s Park could be moved into a constituency alongside 12 Kensington wards under proposals being considered by Westminster Council.

Major changes to the political map were announced by the Boundary Commission in September with Westminster’s two constituencies – Westminster North and Cities of London and Westminster – split three ways. But the council is due to meet tonight (Thursday) to discuss opposing the commission and proposing one of its own counter-options.

Documents show that one possibility being considered would see a slightly altered Cities of London and Westminster constituency retained, while the Maida Vale, Harrow Road and Queen’s Park wards would be moved into a Kensington constituency dominated by wards from the neighbouring borough.

Another option being considered by the council has already been proposed by MP Mark Field and sees Harrow Road, Queen’s Park and Knightsbridge and Belgravia lumped in with 12 Kensington wards.

Mr Field said: “The commission’s initial proposal was that the City of London should be detached from the City of Westminster. But there is a cross-party consensus that it should be reversed. It seemed perverse because there are strong historical links, transport links and common security issues.

“My proposal would see my seat and the neighbouring seat in Kensington remain intact albeit with some small amendments.”

On moving the three Westminster wards into a Kensington-dominated constituency, Mr Field added: “The only way we could make the numbers work was doing it in that way. Harrow Road and Queen’s Park are often already regarded as North Kensington.”

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But Westminster North MP Karen Buck says she hopes the commission does not agree with either the proposals of Westminster Council or Mr Field. “It seems a highly politically motivated move to maximise the chance of getting an additional Conservative seat and reducing Labour representation,” she said. “It would be most unsatisfactory for three Westminster wards to be left with an almost entirely Kensington constituency. It wouldn’t serve them very well at all.”

The changes are based on new government rules which will see the number of London seats reduced from 73 to 68.

Westminster councillor Melvyn Caplan said that the council is considering four options on “the best way forward for Westminster”.

“We asked our officers in Electoral Services to provide us with this report as we believed that there may be better options available than those which have been proposed by the Boundary Commission,” he said.