Archive for the ‘Birmingham’ Category

Articles

Unsplit Birmingham!

In Birmingham,boundary changes on November 1, 2011 by dadge

The City of Birmingham (including Sutton Coldfield) has 10 constituencies: Erdington, Perry Barr, Ladywood, Hodge Hill, Yardley, Edgbaston, Hall Green, Selly Oak, Northfield and Sutton Coldfield.

A review of the constituencies is going on, and with the national reduction in the number of MPs from 650 to 600, Birmingham will only be entitled to 9 and a half MPs. So, two wards from Birmingham will have to be put together with an area outside the city to form a new cross-border constituency. That’s bad enough, but what’s much worse is the plan the Boundary Commission has come up with: it proposes SIX cross-border seats which include bits of Birmingham put together with other areas, plus it proposes two seats which combine parts of Birmingham with parts of Sutton Coldfield:

(The city boundary is shown by a thick black line. The proposed constituencies are shown by thick blue lines.)

OUT OF Birmingham
1. Oscott Ward (Great Barr) -> Walsall
a. Kingstanding Ward -> Sutton
3. Soho ward (Winson Green) -> Smethwick
4. Shard End ward -> Meriden
6. Sheldon ward -> Solihull

INTO Birmingham
2. Castle Bromwich ward -> Erdington
b. Sutton New Hall ward (Walmley) -> Erdington
5. Old Warley ward (South Oldbury) -> Harborne

You can see from the map that Solihull is also being split – the Commission plans to put some of Shirley in the Kenilworth seat. (pdf)

How has this happened?

Under pressure from politicians, the Commission has decided that, rather than respect our cities and communities, it will, for its own convenience, and the convenience of the politicians, split our cities apart. This is not just happening in Birmingham – several other cities are affected, including Liverpool, Nottingham and Southampton.

What can we do about it?

We can tell the Commission and the politicians: “Split my ward, not my city! Let’s make democracy make sense.”

If we split two Birmingham wards, probably Oscott and Bartley Green, we can keep the city together and keep the changes to our constituencies as small as possible. It’s not rocket science.

Act now!

Email the Boundary Commission

Email your MP

Download, print and distribute the information map

Advertisements

Articles

Back to sunny Soho

In Birmingham,electoral register on October 22, 2011 by dadge

For the third year, I’ve been out on the streets of Soho, canvassing for the city council’s Elections Office in order to get as many people onto the electoral register as possible. The process has been made a lot quicker, easier and cheaper this year by the use of data matching, by which I guess they mean they match non-responding households up with council-tax records. So all that’s left for me and my fellow canvassers is to check on the 14% of non-responding households that they don’t have any data for. In my case the percentage is a bit higher – instead of 250 houses to visit, this year I have to go to 100.

After three years, I’m getting know the area (and some of the people) pretty well. Although it’s right on the edge of town (and a stone’s throw from the WBA ground) it seems just as much a part of Birmingham as any other. The Soho ward is a bit of an artificial creation, combining as it does three distinct communities: South Handsworth, Winson Green and an area you could call East Cape Hill or West Rotton Park or Summerfield Park or NW Edgbaston. 🙂 (It would really be better if the ward was split into 3 wards with 1 councillor for each.)

The Boundary Commission propose to tack the ward on to a new Smethwick seat (pdf) but only the Cape Hill quarter has any connections with Smethwick.

In the current boundary review, I’ve proposed that the ward should be part of a Perry Barr or Handsworth seat, with my street in Oscott at the other end of the constituency, and that seems a good plan to me. The parish and town of Handsworth stretched all the way from the Hockley Brook to Sutton Park and it’s a shame that there hasn’t been a Handsworth constituency since 1983 – currently the area is divided between the Ladywood and Perry Barr seats.

 Map from A Vision of Britain

By the way, 9th November is the 100th anniversary of the town of Handsworth leaving Staffordshire and becoming part of the city of Birmingham in the county of Warwickshire.

Articles

Is Halton the whipping boy?

In Birmingham,Cheshire,Merseyside,North West,redistricting on October 20, 2011 by dadge

One of the consequences of the 5% Law is that particular communities get, what’s the best word, leeched? cannibalised? to satisfy the needs of the Boundary Commission. Depending on which metaphor you prefer, their blood or their body parts are removed to give life to constituencies in bigger neighbours. (The technical term I use for this is tacking.)

The relationship of Cheshire to Halton (a council formed from the towns of Widnes and Runcorn) is a case in point. In order to satisfy the requirement for electoral equality – and god forbid that anyone might split a ward instead – the Commission and the political parties have all come up with plans that butcher/drain the district.

Halton has an electorate of 92,550 so at least 12,000 voters do have to find a home in another constituency, and currently some Runcorn wards are in the Weaver Vale seat. That seat’s being abolished, so another home needs to be found. In my plan Cheshire is “full up” so I’ve put some Widnes wards in the St Helen’s South seat.

Whether you like that or not, at least I’ve maintained the principle of only dividing Halton between two seats. Dividing Halton between three seats, as under the Boundary Commission or Lib Dem plans, or four (!) seats, as under the Tory and Labour plans, is unfortunate to say the least, and is not a product of any deep thought about the ties that particular wards have with neighbouring areas*, but simply about making the numbers up in other seats.

*Notice that some of the areas that the main proposals link Halton with are hardly “neighbouring” at all, such is the desperation that is caused by the mania not to split any Cheshire wards. The Commission links Ditton with Bromborough (20 miles), Labour link Beechwood with Chester (15 miles), and the Tories link the eastern edge of Runcorn with Alderley Edge (20 miles).

And the same thing is happening around the country, where, for example, instead of reviewing Liverpool, Birmingham, Sheffield and Leeds on their own, with a couple of split wards in each, the Commission is leeching their smaller neighbours.

If splitting wards causes a bit of suffering to the communities in these cities or in Cheshire, isn’t that at least fairer than causing suffering to the communities in their neighbouring areas, whose only crime is to live nextdoor, and where towns are being divided just in order to make life a bit easier for the Commission and its political allies?

If you’d like to make a comment to the Commission about its policy with regard to tacking, you can email them.

Articles

“Brum’s Battle Lines Drawn”

In Birmingham,News,redistricting on October 13, 2011 by dadge

I’ve been in contact with the Birmingham Mail for about a week, and today the articles Neil Elkes has written were published under the headline “Brum’s Battle Lines Drawn“:

“My plan” for Birmingham  is actually Phil Davies’s plan. My original plan was similar but Phil’s (see below – map from the Vote UK forum) is very likely to succeed because it’s the minimum-change option.

Since the Birmingham hearings aren’t till next month, I expect quite a head of steam to have built up by then and they’ll be quite lively. Email the reporter at Neil.Elkes@Birminghammail.net and the Commission at westmidlands@bcommengland.x.gsi.gov.uk

Articles

Ask Locus: Can Birmingham be reviewed on its own?

In Birmingham,electoral register,redistricting on October 4, 2011 by dadge

Over on the Re-Stirred forum, bunnyson asks:

Is it possible for Birmingham to be redrawn, using current wards, without grabbing Solihull or other authorities’ wards?

Just by using current wards, no.

Birmingham, with an electorate of 731,731, is entitled to just over 9 and a half seats. If the Commission gives it 10 seats, the average size would be 73,173. The legal minimum size is 72,810 so it is possible to review the city on its own, just very messy.

It’d be nice if all the 40 wards were the same size, but they vary from 16,461 (Erdington) to 20,011 (Springfield). The current Erdington constituency has an electorate of 67,598, i.e. more than 5,000 short of the required number, and I guarantee that there is no combination of whole wards in north Birmingham that could create a seat of the required size.

So, the only way is ward-splitting. A better mathematician than me could work out how many of the city’s wards would have to be sliced up, but it would be a lot.

And if we went down that route, the main people to suffer would be the voters of Solihull and Warwickshire. Together they’re entitled to just under 7 and a half seats, so if Birmingham gets 10, they’d get 7. Except that wouldn’t be possible, since that’d mean an average seat size of 81,243, well above the legal limit. So just to keep their seats down to around 80,000 they’d have to give 9,000 voters to Coventry, and to accommodate them you’d have to split a couple of wards in Coventry.

Anyway, we’d end up with 10 seats in Birmingham with 73,000 voters in each, 7 in Warwickshire and Solihull with 80,000 voters in each and 3 in Coventry with 75,000 in one and 80,000 in the other two. It doesn’t sound too bad, I suppose, but it is a bit unfair and (more importantly) it tears up the electoral map.

Postscript 1: There is a point of view that says that if a city is entitled to X number of seats, then just give it those seats, and leave it up to the cityfolk to apportion them. Unfortunately (?) the powers that be decided that 5% law doesn’t apply to local authorities, it applies to individual seats.

Postscript 2: It’s widely regarded to be true (and having done some canvassing myself, I agree) that there’s thousands of people missing off the electoral roll in Birmingham. If we can somehow get those people onto the roll, maybe we could get our extra half an MP back.

Articles

Map fun

In Birmingham,maps,redistricting,West Midlands county on October 3, 2011 by dadge

Enjoying playing with my new toy. I’ve finally got my hands on the map files of the Commission’s proposals, so I can do maps like these, contrasting the current seats (orange) with the new ones (blue). If you want the files, or have a suggestion for a map, email me at dadge1@gmail.com

Articles

Birmingham redux

In Birmingham,redistricting,West Midlands on October 3, 2011 by dadge

Here’s probably the best solution for Birmingham, as proposed by Phil Davies on the Vote UK forum. The seats are virtually unchanged from the current constituencies, so they win the “maintaining local ties” argument hands down.

Two wards are split, as is allowed under law, and they are Oscott and Bartley Green. Using the polling district information available online, I’ve put polling districts CVE, CVG, CVH and CVI (approx 5733 voters) in Handsworth and polling districts CCC, CCD, CCE, CCI, CCJ, CCYY and CCZZ (approx 7881 voters) in Northfield.

 

SUTTON COLDFIELD 75,031
Sutton Four Oaks 19,103
Sutton New Hall 17,582
Sutton Trinity 19,777
Sutton Vesey 18,569

BIRMINGHAM ERDINGTON 79,972
Erdington 16,461
Kingstanding 17,227
Stockland Green 16,670
Tyburn 17,240
Oscott (part) 12,374

BIRMINGHAM HANDSWORTH 76,338
Oscott (part) 5,733
Perry Barr 16,746
Handsworth Wood 18,448
Lozells and East Handsworth 18,493
Soho 16,918

BIRMINGHAM HEARTLANDS 78,697
Bordesley Green 19,861
Washwood Heath 19,767
Nechells 19,716
Aston 19,353

BIRMINGHAM EDGBASTON 79,179
Edgbaston 17,490
Harborne 16,473
Ladywood 18,021
Quinton 17,385
Bartley Green (part) 9810

BIRMINGHAM NORTHFIELD 80,071
Weoley 17,664
Longbridge 18,397
Bartley Green (part) 7,881
Northfield 19,194
Kings Norton 16,935

BIRMINGHAM SELLY OAK 75,668
Bournville 19,298
Brandwood 18,567
Selly Oak 18,605
Billesley 19,198

BIRMINGHAM HALL GREEN* 77,157
Moseley and Kings Heath 18,617
Sparkbrook 19,407
Springfield 20,011
Hall Green 19,122

BIRMINGHAM YARDLEY 73,261
Acocks Green 19,365
South Yardley 19,784
Stechford and Yardley North 18,037
Sheldon 16,075

CASTLE BROMWICH 79,812
Castle Bromwich 9,271
Chelmsley Wood 9,236
Kingshurst and Fordbridge 9,455
Smith’s Wood 8,966
Shard End 18,579
Hodge Hill 17,778
Bickenhill (part) 6,527

(*If it was my choice, I’d call this seat Sparkhill.)