Wednesday, October 12, 2016

A Ward by any other Name

Barkingside 21 recommends a complete overhaul of the Ward naming convention for Redbridge during latest Ward Boundary Review by the Local Government Boundary Commission for England (LGBCE).

While the draft proposals have in some cases dispensed with the rather silly notion of using major roads and railways as clear dividing lines, there are other instances where this is not the case. The new wards of Ilford Town Centre and Snaresbrook & South Woodford have recognised the needs of effective government for town centres and now cover both sides of a railway line. However, this is not the case for Barkingside town centre or Gants Hill town centre, or for that matter Newbury Park. Barkingside High Street remains split down its middle and Gants Hill and Newbury Park remain divided by the A12 when they clearly have an identity, and governance requirements that traverse these false boundaries.

The problem is that the criteria for setting the ward boundaries conflict. Communities just do not come in equal sized parcels with equal numbers on the electoral register.

So, using recognized place names we end up with silly situations that just confuse everybody, like Barkingside High Street being split between Fairlop and Fullwell wards and Wanstead High Street being located in Snaresbrook. You may recall the fracas when Barkingside ward councilors had a notice board erected bearing the name “Barkingside” at Gants Hill. It now bears the name “Gants Hill” after a public outcry. These situations exist all over the borough and are too numerous to list here.

The alternative is to use names based on a feature or characteristic of the ward that everybody can recognise and gives the ward a unique identity of its own irrespective of how people consider place in other contexts (mostly postcodes).

Here are our suggestions, you may like to comment and add your own if you are more familiar with a ward than us.

Let’s start in the west.

Monkhams: presumably named after Monkhams Lane. This name is OK

Bridge: presumably a reduction of Woodford Bridge, but there are three bridges (4 if you include the one that’s closed at the moment) at its centre. The M11 going over Chigwell Road and the original bridge over the river Roding, plus the new bridge over the river Roding after it was diverted to accommodate the M11. This name is OK.

Churchfields: This is one of the new wards and again it has within it Churchfields the road. This name is OK

Snaresbrook and South Woodford: This name is a complete non-starter. Not least because the boundary with “Wanstead Village” is all wrong and should be much more of an east-west line rather than diagonal. Such a change would put Snaresbrook into Wanstead Village, which would probably upset and confuse the people who live in Snaresbrook, but see next comment. My suggestion for this ward is “George Lane” which is the original name of South Woodford tube station and the road (on both sides of the railway line) that is the town centre where the shops and amenities are located.

Wanstead Village: Again this has a recognisable place name which I am trying to avoid. Suggest we drop the Wanstead and just call the ward “Village”. That way it encompasses Snaresbrook.

Wanstead Park: This ward includes Aldersbrook, which borders onto Wanstead Park. It also includes a large area of parkland known as Wanstead Flats. Suggest this ward is named just “Park”.

Let’s move on to the north.

Fullwell: This ward was named presumably after Fullwell Avenue, which was included in its entirety within the ward. Under the draft proposals this is no longer the case but it would include the entirety of Clayhall Avenue. Having added in Hill Farm estate, which is IG8 (Woodford), the focus of the ward will change. It does have a north-south road named Caterham Avenue and Caterham High School where most of the children in this area attend. Suggest “Caterham” as the new name of this ward.

Fairlop: This ward cover parts of Hainault, a lot of Barkingside and Fullwell Cross. It covers very little of Fairlop Plain and does not include Fairlop Waters. It does though have an iconic, nationally known sports venue known as Oakfield at approximately its centre. Suggest this ward in named “Oakfield”.

Hainault: As has already been noted there are large parts of Hainault not in this ward and it also includes some of IG7, which is Chigwell. But it does have Hainault Forest Country Park and Forest Academy. Suggest this ward is renamed “Forest”.

Aldborough: This ward contains most of Fairlop Plain, Aldborough Hatch and that part of Newbury Park north of the A12. I have two suggestions for a new name for this ward. Either “Lake” after the iconic lake at Fairlop Waters or “Turpin” after the iconic public house The Dick Turpin.

Barkingside: Oh dear. As already mentioned this ward is that part of Gants Hill north of the A12. Suggest a rename of “Gearies” after the Adult Education Centre and the roads of that name origin.

Clayhall: Most of this ward is IG4 (Redbridge). It has Redbridge Recreation Ground, Redbridge Lane East and The Red House public house. We could use the name “Beal” after the now double sized High School, but I would prefer “Swithins” after St. Swithins Farm part of which is still there.

And now the south.

I am less familiar with the south of the borough, but will give it a go.

Cranbrook: There is Cranbrook Road and presumably the actual Cran Brook somewhere in there. This name is OK

Valentine: Well, the draft proposals "relocate" Valentines Park, Valentines Mansion and Valentines High school into this ward. I will overlook the Valentine Pub which is being moved from Newbury to Cranbrook. This name is OK.

Newbury: as already mentioned Newbury Park, like Gants Hill, is a community that spans both sides of the A12. This ward includes Seven Kings High School, Seven Kings Park, the Ford Sports Ground and Aldborough Road South. The key main road is Ley Street upon which is the council Depot that was used to house trolley buses. Suggest either “Ley Street” or “Depot” as a new ward name.

Seven Kings: This one is tricky. The ward contains Little Heath to the north, King George and Goodmayes Hospitals and Brookside. Suggest as new name either “Hospital”, “Barley Lane” or “Brookside”.

Chadwell: This is presumably a shortening of Chadwell Heath, the other part of which is across the borough border in Barking & Dagenham. The main road is Chadwell Heath Lane so in the absence of anything else this name is OK.

Loxford: Loxford Park, Loxford Lane, Loxford Polyclinic and Loxford High School. This name is OK.

Clementswood: I’m not sure where this name comes from although there is Clements Road, which is not included in this ward in the draft proposals. However keeping with the same theme there is Woodlands Road running right through the ward. Suggest “Woodlands

Mayfield: I do not know the origin of this name and it could have a significance of which I do not know. The only other prominent feature is South Park with the park itself and several roads bearing that name. Suggest “Southpark” one word.

Goodmayes: This ward includes Mayfield school, Mayfield Road and Seven Kings Road; that is the bit of Seven Kings south of the railway line. I am struggling here. The wider area includes references to Mayes and May so let’s just rename it “Mayes”.

And finally the new ward.

Ilford Town Centre: The proposed name is quite specific. That part of Ilford that is the Town Centre. Because of the specifity it cannot be confused with the wider Ilford name or area so it is probably OK. However, there are alternatives. There is the well known and historic Ilford Chapel, so “Chapel” is an option. There is the shopping Mall, so “Mall” is an option. It is the borough centre. It’s the biggest shopping area in the borough and it is where our democracy is played out. There is Central library. So why not just call it “Centre” or “Central” ward?

The final recommendations by LGBCE are due on 8 November.


  1. Your comments regarding South Woodford reflect our counter-proposal, which takes the Commission's WV and SW&S wards and divides them more sensibly with South Woodford in the North and Wanstead Village in the South. We got a lot of resident support for the suggestion; shortly we will find out the Commission's decision.

    Unlike the last review, we do have the flexibility of proposing three-, two- or even single-member wards to deal with the fair point you make about natural communities coming in different sizes.

    Nevertheless there is clearly some sense in not dramatically changing the existing pattern of wards where the numbers don't do demand - which was the issue regarding Ilford North, where all of the wards were close to the required size. The only proposal I have seen that attempted to redraw Ilford North was the Conservative one, and the surprise here was that the re-drawing didn't really deal with the principal issues (such as Barkingside/Gants Hill) that you identify, resulting in a proposal that was challenging (being polite) to justify.

    1. Well, I figured you would do that Ian. As you say it is quite an obvious and sensible correction to the draft proposals. So, coming from an independent and non-political source will add a little weight, I hope.
      Whilst it is unusual for the commission to make any drastic changes between the draft and final recommendations I feel the case here has sufficient merit to warrent the correction. We shall see ...

  2. And today we have seen our counter-proposal approved. Thank you for your support!