Eltham could merge with Chislehurst as constituency review threatens Labour

Chislehurst Common
Eltham’s next MP could have to worry about Chislehurst’s ponds

Eltham’s parliamentary constituency could expand south to take in Chislehurst, threatening Labour MP Clive Efford’s hold on the seat.

A review of England’s constituencies, published today, recommends shrinking Matt Pennycook’s Greenwich & Woolwich seat as well as uniting most of Plumstead under Abena Oppong-Asare’s Erith & Thamesmead constituency.

But the Boundary Commission’s most eye-catching recommendation for southeast London is to stretch the Eltham constituency across the Bromley borough boundary to include all of Mottingham and Chislehurst – creating a seat that would stretch from Hornfair Park in Charlton to the open countryside of Scadbury Park and St Paul Cray Common.

This latest review is the third attempt in a decade to redraw the parliamentary map to take into account changing populations. While past reviews tried to cut the number of MPs, this one keeps the figure at 650 – meaning London gains two new seats. In addition, most seats must now have between 69,724 and 77,062 electors – a significant change from more flexible rules in the past.

While previous reviews had tried to create combining Greenwich and Lewisham boroughs, the commission opted to split the two boroughs in its considerations this time – leading to Greenwich being grouped with Bexley and Bromley in its thinking.

Under the plans, Eltham would lose the strongly Labour Shooters Hill ward but gain two Bromley wards – the marginal Mottingham and Chislehurst North, which has two Tory councillors; and the staunchly Conservative Chislehurst ward. The seat would be renamed Eltham & Chislehurst and have 74,179 electors.

“There is continuous residential development and numerous road links across the Bromley–Greenwich boundary. We therefore consider crossing [from Bromley] into Greenwich to be the more attractive option in terms of community ties,” the commission’s report says, citing the A20 as a reason for not linking Bromley with Bexley.

Efford, who has been Eltham’s MP since 1992, held the seat with a slim 3,197 majority at 2019’s election. But the changes put that hold under threat. Last month, polling data from the London mayoral election showed that Tory candidate Shaun Bailey had the most first-preference votes on the day in Eltham – including taking 48 per cent of votes in Eltham West, currently a Labour seat on the council.

Greenwich borough’s two other Labour MPs fare better – particularly as past reviews could have seen them lose their seats entirely.

Greenwich & Woolwich shrinks to take into account the area’s growing population, losing Glyndon ward, leaving it with 69,824 electors – just 100 more than the minimum. Past reviews would have seen the seat split up altogether.

Abena Oppong-Asare’s Erith & Thamesmead seat would take in more Greenwich Labour strongholds – including the Glyndon and Shooters Hill wards – while losing some Conservative-leaning areas to the north of Bexleyheath, as well as the marginal ward of Northumberland Heath. It just squeezes into the population limit with 76,628 electors.

Last month’s mayoral election produced a surprise “win” for Bailey on first preferences in Erith & Thamesmead – but his party lagged behind in votes for the London Assembly.

Lewisham sees most of its seats largely unchanged – although Lewisham Deptford could become simply “Deptford” – but Bellingham, Forest Hill, Perry Vale and Sydenham wards would switch to a new Dulwich & Sydenham seat, stretching all the way to East Dulwich.

These changes do not take into account Greenwich’s new ward boundaries, which are yet to be finalised.

Voters can see all the new seats and leave comments at www.bcereviews.org.uk before 2 August.

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