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Boundary Commission Review: Camberwell fights for survival

Nearly eight hundred people have signed a petition objecting to the Boundary Commission’s plan to change the parliamentary constituencies in Camberwell.

Set up by the SE5 Forum, The Camberwell Society, Camberwell Arts and the Camberwell Identity Group, the campaign is against the proposals that would see around a third of Camberwell joining Vauxhall to become the new Vauxhall and Camberwell constituency, with the remainder absorbed into Peckham, and some streets becoming part of Brixton and Clapham.

The groups behind the petition say ‘breaking up’ the area is ‘unacceptable’ and the proposal lumps key landmarks and streets including Camberwell School of Arts; King’s College Hospital; Camberwell Grove; Grove Lane; Camberwell New Road; Denmark Hill Station and Burgess Park in with Peckham. They believe the area would benefit from having a sole MP, and are worried that investment for jobs, transport and other community benefits could end up diverted to bigger centres including Vauxhall, Brixton and Peckham.

“The SE5 Forum has worked hard to establish a sense of cohesion and identity for Camberwell”, says Sophy Tayler, its chair.

“Much of that could be lost if a large part of the area is split into two constituencies. We must all resist these proposals. This breakup of the Camberwell community is unacceptable,” said Kelly Blaney, who chairs the Camberwell Identity Group.

“The 40,000 people who call Camberwell home need a sense of place, as individuals, and as a member of a community.

“The more our local bureaucracy is eroded, the less likely we will be seen as a single entity”.

A public consultation closed on Monday, August 2. As we reported in June, The Boundary Commission for England says its proposed changes will make for a fairer parliament, as each MP would have roughly the same number of voters.

The changes are not only in Camberwell. The proposed new Bermondsey and Borough constituency would be a slightly smaller version of Bermondsey and Old Southwark minus the Newington and Old Kent Road wards.

MP Neil Coyle said his constituency currently had one of the largest numbers of voters anywhere in the UK but that despite the changes he hoped Walworth would not be split up. He has also advocated including Rotherhithe in any new name for his current Bermondsey and Old Southwark seat.

Old Kent Road would join the new Peckham constituency, currently part of Harriet Harman’s ‘Peckham and Camberwell’, along with parts of SE5.

Meanwhile Dulwich and West Norwood would become Dulwich and Sydenham. The new borough would lose the area around Loughborough Junction to a Clapham and Brixton constituency, Thurlow Park ward covering parts of Dulwich and Herne Hill would join a newly configured Streatham constituency and Knight’s Hill and Gipsy Hill would join a new ‘Norwood’ constituency, the rest of which is in the London Borough of Croydon.

The New Dulwich and Sydenham seat would gain the areas around Forest Hill and Sydenham from the current Lewisham and Penge constituency.

Dulwich and West Norwood MP Helen Hayes described the changes as ‘terrible for our area’.

A decision on the finalised proposals is expected in 2023.

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