The following comment is related to BCE-29954

Dear Commissioners,
My name is Simon Hughes. I have lived and worked in Southwark since 1977, initially in SE5 and since 1983 in SE1. I was the Liberal GLC candidate for Southwark, Bermondsey in 1981, a Liberal Alliance candidate for Southwark Council in 1982, and was elected as MP for Southwark, Bermondsey and its successor constituencies from February 1983 until 2010, and stood but lost in the same constituency in 2015. I have been President of the Southwark Chamber of Commerce on several occasions over this period, and co-chair of the South Bank Partnership and South Bank Forum from the time they were first created until 2015. I have been involved as officer, trustee, governor, member or supporter in many other local organisations since 1977, and continue to be so involved. These include the Bermondsey and Rotherhithe, Camberwell, Kennington, Peckham and Walworth Societies and the Waterloo Action Group and Waterloo Community Development Group.

I have read the submission made by London Liberal Democrats and support it. It is very persuasive and well-argued. I wish only to address in more detail the issues linked and relating to my former constituency and to the London Borough of Southwark.

The boundaries of the constituency I have represented changed in 1983 ( when the then Burgess ward was added), 1997 ( when Newington ward was added), and in 2010 when a very small part of the then Faraday and Livsey wards were removed. There have been one set of ward boundary changes between 1983 and 2015.

I welcome and support the current BCE proposals, with the qualification that the constituency should be renamed Bermondsey and the South Bank, to reflect more accurately the areas included by the new proposals.

First, the proposals recognise the significant difference between north and south of the Thames, and of the river as the most important of boundaries. Greater London constituencies ideally should never cross this natural boundary.

Second, the proposals keep together the whole of Bermondsey and Rotherhithe ( with the exception of only the small parts of SE16 which are in Livsey or in Lewisham). If the BCE were to change its view and allow parts of wards to be in constituencies, then I would argue strongly for these remaining parts of SE16 to be included in the Bermondsey constituency. But I accept the strong logic of building the next map of constituency boundaries on present wards, and therefore do not press this suggestion now. The old borough of Bermondsey which includes Rotherhithe has the strongest of community ties within its boundaries, and has few community ties of any significance with the communities to the east or downstream. Therefore Bermondsey and Rotherhithe, historically the furthest north-east part of Surrey, should in all circumstances be kept together, and the old Kent/Surrey boundary ( between Bermondsey and Deptford) respected and upheld.

Third, I support the proposal to add Bishops ward into the new constituency for the north of the LB Southwark. On balance this is the best way of adapting with least community disruption the current Bermondsey and Old Southwark constituency to meet the numerical requirements of the review. The logic of this proposed change has grown stronger every year since the Festival of Britain on the South Bank in 1951! The South Bank runs from Lambeth bridge to Blackfriars bridge and has a more integrated and recognised character now than ever. Street and other signs, commercial and community branding, common parlance and local sense of belonging, in Bishops and Cathedral wards, all reflect this. The South Bank Employers Group, South Bank Forum and South Bank Partnership were created to respond to this and have grown stronger every year. The Bishops and Cathedral ward councillors have worked increasingly closely together over the years on matters of shared interest, as have the local MPs across the Lambeth/Southwark borough boundary. Organisations have followed. Coin Street Community Builders and their housing developments have straddled the boundary. And of huge significance the Guy's and St. Thomas' Hospitals have come together in one NHS trust and people from SE1 and SE16 use both hospitals all the time, depending on what service they need, crossing regularly from north Lambeth to Guy's and from Bermondsey and Rotherhithe to St.Thomas'. The logic is that one MP should represent the whole of this huge trust, rather than the political accountability of one of the largest hospital trusts in England be split. The proposals also put all of Blackfriars south of the river, even more significantly all of Waterloo and all but a very few properties in London SE1 in one constituency - following the lead of Royal Mail which has for several years had a single sorting office to serve all the SE1 and SE16 wards in this proposed new constituency. Fourth, there is a logic in putting Newington ( West Walworth and Kennington Road) into the new constituency of Kennington and Brixton North or Kennington and Stockwell which my Liberal Democrat colleagues propose. There are several reasons. 1.Newington is a relatively recent addition to the most northerly Southwark constituency, and does not have as well established recent north Southwark links. 2. All the Walworth wards have never been together in one constituency since the London Borough of Southwark was created; Faraday (the third Walworth ward) has been in Camberwell and Peckham for many years. So separating Newington from East Walworth and putting these two wards into different constituencies does not create a fundamentally different divide from the several variations of constituency arrangements for Walworth which there have been over all recent years. 3. With the exception of the very small part of Kennington which remains in Cathedrals ward , the Liberal Democrat proposal puts all of Kennington SE11 together -Oval, Newington and Princes - in one constituency, and around Kennington Park and Kennington and Oval tube stations, rather than the two constituencies currently proposed by the BCE.

Last, looking at Southwark as a whole, the proposals put forward by my colleagues do much more to keep the well-established community and constituency ties between Camberwell and Peckham ( both part of the old Camberwell borough ) in one constituency in one borough rather than the 'three borough split' currently proposed by the BCE, and the proposed Dulwich and Forest Hill constituency is more natural a community link than the Dulwich and West Norwood constituency at present or the further 'three borough split' constituency now proposed by the BCE. They also support the logic of a riparian constituency from Lambeth Bridge to South Dock, which includes the entire length of the Jubilee line for this part of its journey which is south of the river, both main line railway termini south of the river, and where there are so many other common issues and characteristics and linked communities.

I am very happy to submit further argument and/or evidence if and when needed.

Yours sincerely,

Simon Hughes

Rt Hon Sir Simon Hughes
6, Lynton Road, London SE1 5QR

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Member of the public

Personal details

Simon Hughes
6
Lynton Road
London
SE1 5QR

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