Proposals for redrawing ward boundaries across Enfield borough envisage major changes to wards in the Palmers Green area. The present Palmers Green ward would be shifted to the west, with Green Lanes as its focus and incorporating the whole of the Lakes Estate. Its residents would elect only two councillors. The eastern part of the present Palmers Green ward would be transferred to a new "Highfield" ward, incorporating the Connaught Gardens and Firs Lane areas.
The proposed new map of Enfield wards
The proposals are contained in draft recommendations by the Local Government Boundaries Commission, which are out for consultation until August. The commissioners took as their starting point retention of the same number of councillors (63) but, in order to take account of recent and forecast future population shifts, are proposing that the number of wards be increased to 26, of which 15 should be represented by two councillors rather than three. The proposed boundaries are designed to equalise the number of voters per councillor and at the same time reflect local community identities.
The present consultation phase is the second. The recommendations have been drawn up on the basis of a very small number of responses to the first consultation phase. As is clear from reading the report, the commissioners have based their proposals on a scheme put forward by North Enfield Conservative Association, with some modifications, generally rather minor. Unlike other respondents, the Association proposed a scheme covering the entire borough which generally satisfied the various criteria. None of the current wards is retained unchanged and most are significantly redrawn.
Acknowledging the PG community
A new Palmers Green ward focussed on Green Lanes
In contrast to the current ward boundaries, the proposals acknowledge that there is a community identifying as Palmers Green located on both sides of Green Lanes, which at some point transitions into Winchmore Hill. Unfortunately, in order to equalise voters per councillor the commissioners have placed this boundary in a rather odd place, dividing Caversham Avenue, Burford Gardens and Cranley Gardens between wards and putting Windsor and Osborne Roads and both St John's and St Monica's churches in Winchmore Hill ward:
63 We considered placing the boundary between Palmers Green and Winchmore Hill wards on Bourne Hill to create a clearer boundary. However, this change would lead to an electoral variance of -12% in Winchmore Hill ward. Further changes to the boundaries of Winchmore Hill would be required to ensure good electoral equality and we are not persuaded to make these at this stage without any evidence to support them.
Another notable omission from the refocussed Palmers Green ward is Broomfield Park and the Broomfield Estate, which have been put in "Arnos Grove" ward. It's difficult to regard this ward as representing a "community", as it combines four rather separate areas with no common focus: in addition to Broomfield, there is the Arnos Park and Grove area itself and some streets whose residents probably identify with Southgate - the Mall, Selborne Road and Southgate Green.
Redrawn ward boundaries in and around Palmers Green
Under the proposals Bowes ward would be shifted eastward to stretch as far as the A10. Streets to the west of Palmerston Road would be in a new New Southgate ward - the railway line seems a more obvious boundary.
No need for unnatural combinations?
It's interesting to compare these recommendations with the most recent version of the redrawn parliamentary constituencies map. The constituency proposals (still extant?) divvy up Palmers Green between three different constituencies - Edmonton, Finchley & Enfield Southgate, and Hornsey & Wood Green. These ward recommendations do the exact opposite, uniting most of what we can regard as the core part of PG into a single ward. Let's hope that the Cameron government's plan to reduce the size of the Commons is never executed so that there is no need for such unnatural combinations.
Is does seem a little tough to have the Palmers Green Community Festival in Arnos Grove rather than in Palmers Green. This coming at a time when the Green Lanes high street traders, or at least those of them who won’t be in Winchmore Hill under these plans, are seeing Palmers Green’s Broomfield Park as a key asset in their plans to enhance local community and their part in it.
Boundaries are undoubtedly influential in the public realm and beyond and certainly help local community identities, or undermine same. One year, one consultation rips PG in two; the following year, another consultation, and it’s back together and more positively than currently but loses its premier asset in the process. The view from behind a desk, inevitably fascinating.
I don't think which ward the park is in is really relevant. People from the current wards of Palmers Green, Winchmore Hill, Southgate Green and Bowes use it, and no doubt some from further afield. If there's a problem, councillors from all of those would feel entitled to get involved.
Anyway it's not in Palmers Green ward now!
Bill rightly indicates that boundaries, particularly Ward location, shouldn’t matter in key decisions and I’ll agree, if only. A reorganisation, “reflecting community identities”, says to me it’s def PG. Where that becomes most useful is when PG councillors, assisting high street change activity are the same ones assisting Broomfield Park change activity and can leverage one on the other for mutual benefit – think eg of a PG Festival that also incorporated high street activity say the week before what to date happens annually in the park all under the same umbrella. And while councillors from several nearby wards may well get involved, and it might even work currently when most wear the same strip, I’ve seen too many key examples locally where party benefit to stamp on the other team has taken preference over what is sensible and best for actual residents. I’d stick it in PG and leave Arnos Grove to their own park; it’s even sensibly called Arnos Park.
If anyone is considering submitting comments on the proposals, they are advised to heed the advice given on the
Enfield Society's website
Submission are evaluated against the legal criteria which the LGBCE must follow when drawing up electoral arrangements:
to deliver electoral equality: where each councillor represents roughly the same number of electors as others across the council;
that the pattern of wards should, as far as possible, reflect the interests and identities of local communities;
that the electoral arrangements should provide for effective and convenient local government.
It is important that you take account of the criteria if you are suggesting an alternative pattern of wards.
If you wish to put forward a view, the LGBCE would also urge you to ensure that evidence supports your submission. For example, if you wish to argue that two areas should be included in the same electoral ward, make sure you tell us why they should be together, providing evidence about community facilities, ties, organisations, and amenities, rather than simply asserting that they belong together.
Should you be unhappy with the introduction of 2-councillor wards, I guess that to have much chance of changing the commissioners' minds you'd have to devise a complete new scheme for the entire borough!
Having thought about this i convinced myself Broomfield Park is sensibly seen as part of PG rather than Arnos Grove. This is what i sent in, and will be public at some stage:
I would wish to comment on one specific proposal, that of the new Palmers Green Ward. Palmers Green, as one of Enfield’s very few District Town Centres has been correctly identified as a coherent whole about its central high street; an administrative improvement both to the current position and particularly to the recent parliamentary boundary change proposal which saw the same area split between two adjacent constituencies.
There are certainly arguments about the sensible extent of the area commonly referred to as “Palmers Green”, one at least being raised in your own notes: that of the Bourne / Bourne Hill as a more natural boundary than one based on the current balancing electoral needs of a variable population; a population expected to be more dynamic in future under emerging London and local Core Plans. I wish however to raise and seek a reassignment of one particular area, that of Palmers Green’s Broomfield Park.
The park, some 21 hectares, has no residents and as MOL that position is unlikely to change. No electoral variance would thus follow from its reassignment to an alternative ward, now or in future.
The core issues would thus seem to be: is the park better identified as part of Palmers Green (rather than Arnos Grove); and would its move to the former ward enhance local government administration?
On the former matter, Arnos Grove does have its own well known and respected park at its heart, appropriately termed Arnos Park. They are clearly linked in the local lexicon. In my long and wide local experience, the terms “Broomfield Park” and “Arnos Grove” are however never used together other than in giving directions, as in pass through Broomfield Park to get to Arnos Grove, ie they are seen as distinct.
More particularly Broomfield Park is locally viewed as a Palmers Green facility:
No less than Wikipedia identifies it as being in PG
The Friends of Broomfield Park point it out it as one of the highlights of PG
The café based in the park is called “The Palmers Greenery”, a clear play on the location. “The Arnos Grovery” was never one of the possible options when this facility was set up by many locals with the support of the Local Authority
No less significantly, The Palmers Green Community Festival has been based in Palmers Green’s Broomfield Park for over a decade. This celebration of the local community draws many thousands of locals. Its advertising street banners and over 12,000 leaflets distributed in 2018 are faced with an overhead view of the host park.
Broomfield Park’s links to PG is unquestionably locally acknowledged and supported by facts on the ground.
Looking to its superior position in PG rather than Arnos Grove for more effective local administration is best viewed through a high street offering lens. The District Town Centres retail offering extends east / west along the northern edge of the park, as well as its nearby north / south stretch. The interface between the east / west outlets and the park is effectively seamless, perhaps best highlighted by one outlet extending to the park boundary for an annual art display featuring up to 50 local artists, itself then linked to the wider Palmers Green Festival.
Looking wider, the main strands of a (very) wide portfolio of local community activity is centred on the park and also the high street. It has been increasingly acknowledged that the desired rejuvenation of the high street area is dependent upon the local community and then leveraging all related assets. A “Town Festival Week” linked to the park based Palmers Green Festival has been trialled and recent years has seen an increasing desire by local traders to have a temporary base in the park for promotion linked purposes. Links between resident based community groups in both key locations are frequently fungible and increasingly seeking and identifying cross fertilisation and leveraging opportunity.
What is - and in future can be - developed at voluntary / community level is easier and unquestionably more effectively understood and supported when both development centres fall under the administration of the same team of councillors. Boundaries do matter and can influence priorities; the relocation of Broomfield Park into Palmers Green removes that real risk at a stroke; conforms to local assumptions and has no effect on the electoral balance of any proposed ward. It is a sensible readjustment supported by facts on the ground and offers better future regeneration and community opportunities and is strongly recommended.