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 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
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.
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.