Boundary proposals are "a dog's breakfast"

The Boundary Commission for England recently announced its revised proposals for boundaries of parliamentary constituencies.  It is due to submit its final recommendations in September 2018. 

A formula known as the Sainte-Laguë method is used to allocate electors to constituencies, using the numbers of Parliamentary electors, as at 01 December 2015. 

With its layers of mapping and ability to drop a virtual pin on a map to comment about a particular locality, their web site is a good use of modern technology.  The current consultation on what it terms its revised proposals is open until 11 December 2017. 

Some boundary proposals, like those for the proposed new constituency of East Oxfordshire, stretching from south of Henley to within sight of Brackley and Buckingham in the north, are a dog's breakfast. 

But locally, it is proposed to move the villages of Drayton, Marcham and Milton from the Wantage constituency into a new Abingdon and Oxford North constituency. It makes sense for villages like Marcham and Drayton, with their close proximity to Abingdon, to be represented by the same member of Parliament. 

In a fabulously parochial front-page editorial of May 2017, the village newsletter the Drayton Chronicle pointed out that Drayton now comes under the county council's Electoral Division labelled ‘Sutton Courtenay & Marcham’ and notes that "Marcham does not even have its own village hall"! 

The Church of England formed a new parish for the area in the Summer of 2017 called DAMASCUS, which is a clever use of the initial letters of Drayton, Appleford, Milton, Sutton Courtenay and Steventon.  One of the five churches in the parish is dedicated to Saint Peter -  and Saint Paul, whose conversion on the road to Damascus is from whence the phrase 'Damascene conversion' originates. 

Recently I picked up a passenger who was travelling to a business located on Milton Park.  He had been sent to Radley station by someone else within his company, as it is the closest rail station to Abingdon and Milton Park has an Abingdon post code. But it is closer to Didcot rail station and because taxi fares are calculated primarily by distance, therefore cheaper. 

So many new properties are being built in fields surrounding the villages to the south of Abingdon, in Drayton, Steventon and Sutton Courtenay especially, that it is not unusual these days to get a taxi job there, to what shows up on the map and satellite photographs as a field in the middle of nowhere. 

In the taxi, we are not permitted to pick up from a street hail outside the area.  On one side of Abingdon Bridge it would be legal and on the side where two of the car parks are located which serve the town centre it is not. 

For this reason, a licensed Hackney Carriage driver is supposed to have a knowledge of district council boundaries. It is an obscure subject and a niche interest, but our sense of identity and how we relate to a place are important. 

As published in the Herald Series on Wednesday 01 November 2017

  1. Boundary Commission for England, 2018 Review, web site, as retrieved 24 October 2017
  2. Boundary Commission for England, Our proposals for South East, web site as retrieved 24 October 2017
  3. Herald Series, Thousands of Oxfordshire voters to be moved into new constituencies under Boundary Commission proposals, 17 October 2017, as retrieved 24 October 2017
  4. Drayton Community Trust, Drayton Chronicle, May 2017 (pdf), as retrieved 24 October 2017
  5. Church of England, Clergy Appointments Vacancy List, DAMASCUS Parish, 19 May 2017, as retrieved 24 October 2017