Eltham MP Clive Efford is set to see his constituency expand to take in Chislehurst in a long-awaited shake-up of parliamentary seats.
Both Labour and the Conservatives had opposed proposals to create a new Eltham & Chislehurst seat, which would stretch south to include Chislehurst and the part of Mottingham that is in Bromley borough.
The change would create a constituency stretching from the gates of Charlton Park in the north to Petts Wood in the south.
Greenwich & Woolwich will lose the area covered by the old Glyndon ward but remain largely as it is now, to the relief of local Labour campaigners who had pressed for Matt Pennycook’s constituency to be kept largely intact.
There is also good news for Labour in Erith & Thamesmead, which gains both Glyndon and Shooters Hill – both strong areas for the party – but Abena Oppong-Asare’s constituency loses parts of Bexley borough to the north of Bexleyheath which lean towards the Conservatives.
Boundary commissioners first revealed their plans last June and held a consultation, with public hearings heard earlier this year. During the process, Greenwich’s ward boundaries changed, meaning the new constituencies are based on the old council seats.
Another consultation has begun on these revised proposals, with final plans to be revealed in June.
Eltham has been a hotly-contested seat in recent years. Last year the Conservative Shaun Bailey topped the poll on first-preferences in the mayoral election, but Labour were dominant in this year’s council election. Efford had a majority of nearly 3,200 in the 2019 general election.
Attaching Chislehurst to Eltham and removing Shooters Hill would, on the face of it, be a boost to the Conservatives – Mottingham is a marginal area and Chislehurst is traditionally staunchly Conservative, but voted for a local party at this year’s council elections.
The commission said that it had received over 300 submissions objecting to the creation of Eltham & Chislehurst, “with most respondents arguing that Eltham and Chislehurst are two very different communities in different London boroughs”.
Including Chislehurst, with its large commons and woodland, means the Eltham seat would almost double in area, with two sizeable town centres. But would have 74,179 electors, comfortably within the 77,000 maximum set out under new rules. At present it has just over 64,000 – too small for the rules.
One proposal from the Conservatives proposed an Eltham & Blackheath seat which crossed into Lewisham, while Labour suggested that “semi-rural” Chislehurst itself be lopped off and Shooters Hill reincorporated into the seat because it had “strong ties” to Eltham.
But the commission said that alternatives proposals “would result in significant consequential disruption to other existing constituencies and the breaking of community ties elsewhere”, forcing a large-scale rewrite of its other south London seats.
The Lewisham side of Blackheath also switches seats so it forms part of a Lewisham North & Deptford constituency; this would put all of Lewisham town centre under the same MP, currently Vicky Foxcroft.
At present the west side of Blackheath Village is in Lewisham East, which stretches towards Catford and Downham and is represented by Janet Daby. This seat would gain Bellingham under the plans.
It will be the first time that constituency boundaries have been revised since the 2010 general election, with most constituencies required to have an electorate of between 69,724 and 77,062.
Voters can see all the new seats and leave comments at www.bcereviews.org.uk before 5 December.
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