Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Broxtowe, boundaries, buses and Beeston

The new government is expected to approve proposed changes to parliamentary constituency boundaries which were first mooted in 2011. At the time, I submitted alternative proposals to the Boundary Commission, encouraged by members of the Labour Party and my then MP, Lilian Greenwood. I was later invited to go to Derby and to submit my evidence in person. It now seems a very long time ago.

At the time, I thought the way the Boundary Commission presented their recommendations was overwhelming, so I produced my own map of their proposals for greater Nottingham:

My own proposals avoided the nonsense of including Gotham on the south bank of the Trent and divided Broxtowe borough into three, putting Beeston and Stapleford in with Lenton and Clifton to create a 'Nottingham South West & Beeston' constituency:

I based my greater Nottingham constituencies on bus routes, arguing that if you 'follow the buses' you are following proven lines of communication, both economic and social. I was heard politely by the Commission when they visited Derby and questioned closely. I thought, at the time, the Commission had made up its mine and so it turned out to be. My evidence was later dismissed with the aside 'it was based on bus routes'. 

The map below is an extract from the Boundary Commission's own map, to which I have added the orange line (Eastwood and Brinsley are not in the new constituency):

Recently I was looking at historic boundary maps on the Vision of Britain website in preparation for a local history project Susan and I are presently thinking about and came across this map dated 1885, showing parliamentary constituencies in Nottinghamshire. Below is an extract showing Nottingham surrounded by 'Rushcliffe' (which included Beeston, Stapleford, Strelley and more):

The boundary line south of Eastwood is almost identical to the present (and new) constituency boundary. It also shows that those drawing 19th century boundaries were as disinterested in place as today's decision makers. Look at how, in 1885, the Rushcliffe boundary squeezes Nottingham, virtually creating a Rushcliffe constituency of two halves — just as we will have when the present Broxtowe constituency has Gotham attached.

Perhaps on the day the new constituency comes into being, someone should organise a new 'ferry' to carry canvassers and voters across the Trent?

I was going to include a footnote about the Your Bus Y36, but I have decided to give it a separate post later today.

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