The first round of consultation by the Boundary Commission for England on its proposals published on 8 June for a new constituency map for England closed on 2 August. But there are two further rounds of consultation. In the spring of 2022 there is a consultation and public hearings on the Commission’s revised proposals: if these are further revised as a result - and they usually are - then there is a further and final written consultation in late 2022 before the Commission produces its definitive report by 1 July 2023.

The redrawing is the third since the 2011 Parliamentary Voting Systems and Constituencies Act brought in equalisation of the electorate of constituencies to within exactly 5% either side of the arithmetic mean. The first one was abandoned in 2013 when the Liberal Democrats in the Coalition withdrew their support for it: the second was completed in 2018 but never put to the House of Commons for its assent. The first two were based on a statutory reduction from 650 to 600 in the number of seats: we are now back at a statutory total of 650. The eventual outcome is be implemented without parliamentary involvement.

London gets just two additional constituencies, but substantial changes are proposed for all but 12 current constituencies. The proposal for the current Dulwich and West Norwood seat, as foreshadowed in the 2018 report, is that its 4 Lambeth wards pass to a revised Streatham constituency and to a new Clapham and Brixton seat, while the four core Dulwich wards are joined with four Lewisham wards now in Lewisham West and Penge to become a new constituency of Dulwich and Sydenham.

The proposed change is plainly of major importance to local political party organisations based on current structures, not least as sitting members have to work out whom gets nominated where. But it does not directly impact on local service provision: local authority and ward boundaries are unaffected.

Possible grounds for objection can include the breaking of local ties, or a serious division between one part of a proposed constituency and another, for example by a main road or river or - in Dulwich’s case - a hill! Inevitably there are closer ties with neighbouring wards, such as Herne Hill or Gipsy Hill or Champion Hill, than with the most distant ward - in this case Bellingham. And it may be that some Sydenham wards will wish to be in with Catford or Peckham rather than Dulwich, and will make representations accordingly. Any changes in one area inevitably have knock-on consequences elsewhere: it is a fluid jigsaw. The proposed name is also open to consultation: Dulwich and Sydenham would not be the only proposed constituency to share its name with a golf course!

The experience of 2018 demonstrates that the Commission is truly responsive: what came out for this area was very different to its original proposals. So we will be watching with interest.

{The Boundary Commission for England website is highly informative: htpps://boundarycommissionforengland.independent.gov.uk}

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