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Camden ward boundaries: Belsize is victim of 'lazy line drawing', says councillor

PUBLISHED: 10:25 27 February 2019 | UPDATED: 12:54 28 February 2019

Gavin Williamson and Conservative candidate for Belsize, Steve Adams, during a campaign session on March 22

Gavin Williamson and Conservative candidate for Belsize, Steve Adams, during a campaign session on March 22

Archant

Belsize's councillors all slammed plans to redraw the Camden council ward's boundaries in a way that would "carve up" the area into different wards.

But Camden’s Labour group passed the plans, which it called “a fresh look” at the borough.

It means the town hall’s official submission to the Local Government Boundaries Commission England (LGBCE) consultation includes a Belsize ward that has been shifted southward to accommodate changes to Swiss Cottage ward, which will instead be known as South Hampstead.

Despite opposition from all three current Belsize councillors – Steve Adams (Con), Tom Simon (Lib Dem) and Luisa Porritt (Lib Dem) – the plans were backed by the town hall’s Labour majority.

Cllr Adams told the meeting: “Belsize, were this to be adopted, would be in the peculiar situation of not only not having its own Tube station in its area but [also] leaving aside Belsize Lane – which it does at the moment – [as well as] Belsize Avenue, Belsize Park Gardens, Belsize Park and Belsize Village. But it still keeps its name.

“This is lazy line-drawing and should be reconsidered.”

Cllr Simon agreed, saying: “You can’t have a Belsize ward if you don’t have Belsize in it.”

But Labour councillors including Cllr Leo Cassarani, who sat on the cross-party committee which developed the proposals, felt the proposals were sensible. Cllr Cassarani (Lab, Swiss Cottage) welcomed the new South Hampstead ward and said: “Our proposals are a fresh look at how the local identities of various wards are reflected.”

One of the criteria the LGBCE will use when re-drawing the boundaries is how well communities are kept together, while another is how much the number of electors in each ward differs across the borough.

Cllr Casarani said the variance was on average only 4 per cent, much less than the 10pc target.

The council also rejected calls to consider two member wards instead, saying a three-councillor situation was preferable.

Prabhat Vaze, who chairs the Belsize Residents Association, told the Ham&High: “The historic centre of Belsize won’t be in the ward Belsize. We have got a strong community which centers on Belsize Park and that’ll be split.

“In fact it’s going to be split up quite a few ways. But we’re used to having to work with different councillors, even as it is.”

LGBCE’s consultation continues until March 4, at consultation.lgbce.org.uk.

Camden’s submissions can be viewed here.

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