Post by East Anglian Lefty on Feb 28, 2016 21:12:25 GMT
EAL, I think your plan three is really strong - particularly like how Rayleigh and Wickford includes the areas from the bottom end of Chelmsford borough like Runwell that look much more towards South Essex. Splitting Brentwood would have been very tough as Shenfield and Hutton are very closely associated and the areas run into each other. I appreciate that Basildon has been split for years but this feels more difficult to do in a smaller town like Brentwood, so keeping these together is a huge advantage over plan two. As you mention it also works nicely with the new ward boundaries that pull in the small villages round Canewdon into a Rochford town ward. Much of what is in Hawkwell South ward calls itself Rochford anyway so reuniting these areas is probably helpful for community identity.
The trickiest area I can see in your plan for South Essex (sorry I don't know the rest of the county well!) is West Leigh being taken into Castle Point. David Amess and the Leigh Town Council ran a loud and ultimately successful campaign to get this reversed from the initial plans in the zombie review (although that may have transferred Leigh ward as well). While I can see the arguments for keeping Leigh together, and there is a clear divide in the southern part of the ward with the countryside running to Hadleigh castle, this is not the case with the area of West Leigh ward north of the London Road. Indeed there are several streets that are split between Southend and Castle Point in this area (even a 12 house cul-de-sac!) so it is difficult to argue that there is no link between the areas.
Overall think this is a great plan but can't help feeling that the commission will mess about with Basildon rather than breaching the Southend boundary to the west, even though the same has been done to the Rochford boundary for many years.
Thank you for the kind words. I think you're right about West Leigh being a possible issue. If I've learnt anything from paying attention to boundary reviews, it's that it's much easier to carve-up a working-class area than a middle-class area, even if the split of the former is much more egregious than the latter, because the latter group write angry letters and the former group don't.
There's an interesting passage in the Essex section of the Fifth Periodical Review of Constituencies report where the commissioner remarks that the people of Basildon would like their town to be a whole seat but are resigned to it not being so. The people of West Leigh, which is prime chattering classes territory, do not expect to be divided off from the rest of Southend and would be outraged if it was suggested. They'll write letters against the proposal, whilst the people of Pitsea won't write nearly so many and therefore it'll be assumed they're fine with it.
So yes, more than likely I think you'll be proved correct. But it's nice to dream.