A few months ago I received a tip that as part of the Boundary Commissions consultation in constituency borders, the local Conservatives, not least our MP, had submitted proposals to carve Beeston in half, putting a very non-Tory chunk of the town in a different constituency. Half of Beeston would be in Broxtowe, half in Nottingham. While this would be only a Parliamentary change, not a council one, it could be assumed that would be the next step. The arguments presented were almost laughably weak: NCT operates buses here, NET runs trams. That little bit of Beeston that borders the Uni campus is technically in the city, so hey, let’s move the line West. And so on. This seemed to be blatant gerrymandering.
We’re not a political magazine, and try and represent a plurality of views as befits a community-led publication. I do, personally, write on political issues in other places, but I’ve always found that this place is best kept free of party politics as much as we can. Otherwise we risk polarity, and, as was seen in the rancid FB ‘Rant Rooms’ during the tram debacle, an outright cleave of the town.
Yet this suggestion to cut the town in two was doing just that, and thus transcended party politics. The Boundary Commission can only accept suggestions and submissions that aren’t party-politically driven, and this clearly was. Labour, Conservative, Lib Dem or Green, this was crazy to all Beestonians. It seemed vital to do something.
I set up a poll on Beeston Updated, and had a huge response with near-unanimous opposition to the revised plans. I worked through these, collating opinions and statistics, before making representations to the Boundary Commission; first online, then in person at a public consultation at Nottingham Council House. My evidence at the consultation was not me giving my opinion, but as faithful amplification of the feeling from my own consultations.
We then waited, fingers crossed. While it seemed obvious that the Tories’ plan was cynical and ridiculous, with virtually no public support, the mechanisms to influence the commission from well-resourced places still ensured this wait was full of uncertainty. Then, in mid-November, news.
Our efforts appear to have worked: the Boundary Commission have rejected the Tories proposal and Beeston as a complete entity in parliament is (nearly) saved (the final details are being finessed after we go to print).