Boundary carve-up signals the end for Holborn & St Pancras

What a carve-up: out goes King’s Cross, in comes Marylebone

Planned changes put Town Hall into an Islington constituency

Published: September 15, 2011

SO long Holborn and St Pancras: the historic parliamentary constituency is set to be sliced up and moulded into a new electoral patch called Camden and Regent’s Park.

And plans released by the Boundary Commission on Tuesday reveal how council wards in Holborn, Covent Garden and King’s Cross are set to be moved over to the constituency currently broadly covered by Labour MP Emily Thornberry’s Islington South seat.

Bizarrely, it means Camden’s civic base – the Town Hall – may soon be in the constituency of an Islington MP.

Under the plans – a nationwide shake-up aimed at reducing the number of MPs by 50 – the new Camden and Regent’s Park constituency would take in the Conservative and Lib Dem-held Belsize council ward north-west of Chalk Farm and parts of Westminster, including the Church Street ward.

But Kentish Town, Gospel Oak and Highgate will transfer to the Hampstead and Kilburn constituency, currently held by Labour’s Glenda Jackson. Fortune Green, the Lib Dem stronghold, will move to the Finchley and Golders Green constituency.

The three main political parties in Camden have all pledged to make representations to the commission before the changes are finalised.

In political terms, Labour appears to have gains to make under the changes, particularly in the north of the borough where a three-way battle royal unfolded for Hampstead and Kilburn.

Ms Jackson survived by just 42 votes. She is not standing again but whoever follows in her footsteps is likely to face an easier task with the addition of Labour-held council wards.

The traditionally safe seat of Holborn and St Pancras (previously Holborn and St Pancras South), held since 1979 by Frank Dobson, will in contrast potentially be made more of a challenge.

Labour members, however, are among dissenters to the plans. Mr Dobson compared the changes to “the way 19th-cen­tury imperialists carved up Africa”.

Labour cabinet member Councillor Sarah Hayward said Camden had been “cannibalised”. She added: “Camden Town Hall, the civic centre of our borough, which is in the ward I represent, King’s Cross, will now be in a parliamentary seat that bears the name of the neighbouring borough. This despite there being a new seat that finally bears the famous moniker of Camden.

“It may seem like a small point but will surely be confusing for voters, particularly between the borough and constituency votes.”

Labour and Conservatives alike are confused by plans for Kentish Town, which has a long association with Mr Dobson’s seat but is being pulled north, while Belsize, close to Swiss Cottage, will be dragged south.

Liberal Democrat group leader Councillor Keith Moffitt said it was “early days” and that the party would be looking carefully at the suggestions. He added: “There is considerable doubt as to whether the changes will actually get voted through.”

Chris Philp, who stood for the Conservatives in Hampstead and Kilburn last year, said: “The proposed boundary changes throw up some oddities – like our Town Hall being in an Islington seat – and St John's Wood being paired up with Camden Town. But given all the progress we’ve made, I think the Conservatives will win a Parliamentary seat in the borough next time however the boundaries get drawn.”


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