Save Pavilion from oblivion!

At Pavilion Labour’s March meeting (our ‘GC’) there was some discussion about the proposals for the future boundaries of Parliamentary constituencies in Brighton and Hove. These proposals were subject to consultation last year when Party organisation in the City was suspended.  Now we are in the third week of a four week period in which all the comments made in that first phase of consultation have been published and can now themselves be commented upon.

The Boundary Commission is compelled to come up with proposals which achieve an overall reduction in the number of MPs to 600, and are required to keep all proposed parliamentary constituencies within a tightly defined number of voters (based not upon the most recent electoral register but upon a fixed point in the past). The initial proposals for Brighton and Hove create a constituency merging some of the current Brighton Kemp Town constituency with wards eastwards along the coast as far as Seaford. That proposal has invited a well-reasoned counter proposal from Councillor Lloyd Russell-Moyle arguing that the social and cultural links between Brighton and Lewes make that a more appropriate connection.  (See also herehere, here and here for Lloyd’s full submission.)

The proposals for the remainder of the City are among the most controversial in our Region. Hove is to lose Hove Park ward, but gain Regency and St Peter’s & North Laine wards from Pavilion, to become a new constituency called “Central Brighton and Hove” stretching along the coast from Portslade to the Pavilion and including the City Centre as far up Ditchling Road as the Round Hill. The bulk of what is currently Brighton Pavilion constituency, together with Hove Park to the west and Woodingdean and Moulsecoomb & Bevendean wards to the east, becomes a new “North Brighton” constituency.  These Boundary Commission’s proposals can be explored online.

 

1
It’s quite a change!  As you can see when the existing Brighton Pavilion constituency (coloured pink) is contrasted with the proposed new constituencies for Brighton, Hove & Seaford

 

There were different views about these proposals at our GC meeting, and there is no official Labour Party position on the proposals. However individual Party members are quite entitled to express opinions, as Lloyd Russell-Moyle has done in respect of the East Brighton proposals. Pavilion member Neil Harding has also made a reasoned counter-proposal which attempts to achieve the number of voters required by the Boundary Commission without moving so many wards around, and retaining a Pavilion constituency more understandable to us locals.  (Including Regency and St Peters & North Laine and without Hove Park, but with Moulsecoomb & Bevendean (from Kemp Town) and Brunswick & Adelaide (from Hove) and minus Withdean.)

Speaking purely personally, and declaring an interest as a committed Brightonian and Regency member, I think that crossing the boundary between Brighton and Hove to construct one or more constituencies fails to respect the very different identities of the two towns – and the fact that the Boundary Commissioners have proposed doing so is in fact simply a consequence of their previous decision not to have any constituencies cross the arbitrary administrative boundary between East and West Sussex. If that unnecessary restriction is abandoned (as the Boundary Commissioners propose doing for another seat at the Sussex/Kent border), Hove can be extended westwards along the coast in order to meet the target numbers which the Government has set for the boundary review.

Eastbrook ward
For parliamentary constituencies to respect the historic boundary between Brighton and Hove only needs Eastbrook ward to be moved out of East Worthing & Shoreham constituency and into Hove

For parliamentary constituencies to respect the historic boundary between Brighton and Hove only needs Eastbrook ward to be moved out of East Worthing & Shoreham constituency and into Hove

If you take as a starting point Neil Harding’s submission to the Boundary Commissioners, but respect the Brighton/Hove boundary by putting Withdean back in Pavilion and returning Brunswick and Adelaide to Hove, the revised Pavilion seat remains within the permitted range of sizes for constituencies of between 71,031 – 78,507 voters.

Hove constituency then becomes too small but this can be remedied by moving neighbouring Eastbrook Ward from East Worthing and Shoreham constituency into Hove. This has the knock on consequence of needing to move Central Ward from Worthing West constituency into East Worthing and Shoreham (which might then perhaps need to be renamed) and Beach Ward from Bognor Regis and Littlehampton constituency  into Worthing West (which I think means taking a fair bit of Littlehampton out of “Bognor Regis and Littlehampton”). Happily by the time you get as far as Littlehampton the dominos stop falling along the coast, as Bognor Regis is big enough to stand on its own feet!

Since I cannot imagine we anticipate Labour victories in either the Bognor or Worthing constituencies in the immediate future I cannot really see any Party interest opposed to anyone making these suggestions, albeit they can only be made as comments on submissions already made.

 

Central ward West Worthing
Central ward appears to more properly belong in East Worthing & Shoreham than in Worthing West

 

 

From a democratic point of view our GC was unable to adopt a view, formally, since there was no clear position put to the GC for it to vote for or against, other than that information would be circulated and Labour members urged to comment before the second consultation ends on 27 March.  Thus I do not think that the Executive has sufficient authority to submit anything on behalf of Brighton Pavilion Labour Party.  It is a consequence of the regrettable suspension of the Party organisation in the City last year that we do not now have time to formulate a policy agreed by Labour Party members at constituency level. Democracy takes time and, without a genuinely democratic process of decision-making, the new leadership of our local Party is not inclined to snatch for itself the authority to speak on behalf of thousands of local Party members.

So it is just my view that the historic boundary between our towns of Brighton and Hove should continue to be the boundary between our parliamentary constituencies. I shall express my view – and I hope that you will express yours, whether you agree with me or not.

 

gagging-act
Hurry! You only have until 27 March 2017 to respond to comments in the Boundary  Review’s second consultation

 

Since the Boundary Commissioners have faced a lot of pressure to keep Hove separate from Brighton it is conceivable that they might be influenced to adopt the proposal set out above, as it is the only way to keep a boundary between two constituencies along the boundary between Brighton and Hove. Eastbrook ward is a Labour/Tory marginal held by Labour in 2016. It has one Labour and one Tory Councillor so its inclusion in Hove would not be detrimental to the interests of the Labour Party as far as I can see.

However, the Boundary Commissioners may still refuse proposals which cross the boundary between East and West Sussex.  In that case a constituency based in Hove will have to include wards from Brighton in order to reach the required number of voters. Our challenge within the Labour Parties of Brighton and Hove is to ensure that robustly democratic campaigning branches exist throughout the City so that whatever configuration is eventually chosen we can continue to campaign for socialism – and win!

You can visit the website of the Boundary Review and comment on any and all of the proposals which have been made in the first phase of consultation. I shall be returning to Neil Harding’s proposal and clicking the add comment icon there to insert my suggestion outlined above.  You must also do so by Monday 27 March to have your views included.  Don’t hesitate!

Email chair@pavilionlabour.org.uk with any queries or a copy of your submission.  I strongly urge you to act now.  Let’s save Pavilion from oblivion!

jon-rogers-lrc2-cropJon Rogers

Chair, Pavilion Labour

18 March 2017

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3 thoughts on “Save Pavilion from oblivion!”

  1. Hi Jon, excellent article, very informative and I agree with every word.

    There is huge opposition to Hove Park being put into Brighton, so I think it very unlikely the boundary commission will stick with that proposal. And this will throw their proposals up in the air. That is why it is so important we have counter proposals in place for them to consider.

    I agree about Hove crossing into West Sussex being a good solution, but I know the boundary commission will be very reluctant to cross county boundaries (it sets a precedent for too many other areas). So that is why I’ve I have moved Withdean into Hove and Brunswick&Adelaide into Pavilion (plus addition of Moulsecoomb&Bevendean from Kemptown constituency). It is the simplest change possible that means the number of electors are correct. I have roughly followed Lloyd’s proposals in terms of linking Kemptown/East Brighton with Lewes rather than Seaford. Only I’ve kept Woodingdean in this seat as it fits better. As you say it makes sense to link Lewes to East Brighton rather than Seaford. So the final domino in my proposals is for Seaford & Uckfield to be their own seat, and with the impossibility of linking Seaford to Eastbourne (would have to split Eastbourne with too many knock on effects to other seats), it makes sense for the people of Seaford and Uckfield to have their own MP representing their interests rather than just be a distant adjunct to a much bigger town like Brighton.

    If members like my proposals please follow the link Jon has kindly provided and leave a comment. Every comment we make a difference. Thank you.

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  2. Boundary Changes Debate within Brighton Pavilion Labour Party
    Pavilion Labour recently published on this site a post written by the Chair of our Constituency Labour Party (CLP) expressing a personal opinion concerning the proposals for changes to boundaries between parliamentary constituencies. Those were personal views because the local Party was not functioning when the initial consultation took place, so was not able to formulate an agreed policy. Furthermore we have not had time to discuss and agree a policy position since the CLP was re-convened on 4 February 2017.
    The views of our Chair have provoked some interest, with thirteen members of the Party writing what they describe as a “High importance Letter” to express their disagreement. In the interests of transparent and comradely debate within Pavilion Labour we are publishing that letter here and our Chair’s response. Our Labour Party is a broad church within which we welcome a diversity of opinions; and, as by far the largest political party locally, we should be sufficiently confident to acknowledge that healthy debate is an essential part of building the democratic socialist Labour Party which the people of Brighton Pavilion need.

    High importance Letter from Brighton Pavilion CLP members:
    Dear Chair,
    We are very concerned by comments in the recent publication ‘Brighton Pavilion Labour Party’ entitled ‘Save Pavilion from Oblivion’.
    As you are aware, the Pavilion CLP discussed the issue of Boundary Changes at its March meeting and was reminded that representations were made in December supporting the proposed changes. There was no time before the submission deadline of March 27 to meet again to reconsider the local party’s position which it was felt best represented Labour’s chances of electoral success in a General Election.
    We have no issue with you expressing your personal opinion of the boundary changes, but on this occasion believe you have overstepped the mark and abused your position as chair of the party by making it appear that your view is that of Pavilion CLP.
    We are therefore calling on you to urgently write before the March 27 deadline to all local party members to make it clear these are your own views and not those of Pavilion CLP and that the Labour Party’s official position is to support the changes. If you have already made a submission to the Boundary Commission, we would ask for your assurance that it is clear that it is a personal submission and not that of Brighton Pavilion Labour Party. If that is not clear we would also ask that you write to the chair of the Boundary Commission to ensure that he is left in no doubt that you are expressing a personal view that is contrary to the official position of the Labour Party. We would also invite you to make a statement at the next Pavilion CLP meeting on April 6 to explain your actions and give reassurances that constituency party policy will not be made by decree by yourself or the CLP executive.
    Supported by thirteen Brighton Pavilion CLP members

    The response from the Constituency Labour Party Chair:
    Thank you for your high importance letter, receipt of which by email I am happy to acknowledge.
    You appear to be labouring under two misapprehensions. The first is that I have sought to suggest that my personal opinions concerning the proposed boundary changes represent the policy of the Party at any level. I have been careful not to do this as there is no such agreed Policy.
    This leads to your second misapprehension, which is that there is a policy of the Labour Party to support the initial proposals for boundary changes, consultation for which took place when party organisation in Brighton and Hove was unfortunately suspended following what we now know to have been unfounded allegations concerning the Annual General Meeting of the former District Labour Party.
    It is very regrettable that the suspension of Labour Party organisation locally prevented us from having the full discussion that would have enabled us to formulate a policy in response to the boundary change proposals. The brief discussion at our last GC did not lead to a policy decision, nor was there any consensus, and it would be wrong of anyone to suggest that there is a policy decision which binds our CLP or any of its members in relation to this matter.
    Given that I have not suggested that there is any Labour policy concerning the proposed boundary changes, I think it would be disproportionate and unnecessary for me to write to all members as you suggest. However, since thirteen members have considered this an important issue I will suggest to fellow officers that we publish your letter and this response on the website and include it in the next mailing to members. I will ask the Secretary to include this correspondence as an item of correspondence at the next GC. In publishing the letter online I shall propose that we redact the names of the signatories as we do not have your permission to publish your names.
    I am also happy to give you now the reassurance that, for as long as our CLP has socialist leadership, policy will be made democratically from the bottom up and that we will not accept being told what our policies are by anyone other than Party members acting in accordance with the democratic structures of the Party, which we have happily now been able to re-establish.
    Yours in solidarity,
    Jon Rogers, Chair

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  3. Hi Jon. As you have explained, it was clear this was your personal opinion on the boundaries. I share your opinions and suspect many other members do as well.

    Here is my response to the letter from the 13 members who disagree with you.

    I was disturbed to read your letter dated March 23rd regarding our CLP chair Jon Rogers.

    Jon makes it perfectly clear in his blog of March 19th on the Pavilion Labour website, that his views on the boundaries are his own and that the CLP had no agreed position.

    Here are the relevant sections in his blog..

    “There were different views about these proposals at our GC meeting”

    “Speaking PURELY PERSONALLY”

    “From a democratic point of view our GC was unable to adopt a view, formally, since there was no clear position put to the GC for it to vote for or against, other than that information would be circulated and Labour members urged to comment before the second consultation ends on 27 March. Thus I do not think that the Executive has sufficient authority to submit anything on behalf of Brighton Pavilion Labour Party”

    “SO IT IS JUST MY VIEW that the historic boundary between our towns of Brighton and Hove should continue to be the boundary between our parliamentary constituencies. I shall express my view – and I hope that you will express yours, whether you agree with me or not”

    Therefore I think you have misinterpreted what Jon has said. I don’t see how it is an “abuse of position” for a chair to voice a personal opinion when they make clear it is their own personal view and only their view.

    Not only this, your ideas on the boundaries are not as clearly advantagous to Labour as you suggest, for the following reasons.

    1. The boundary commission proposals that you support rest entirely on the bizarre suggestion that Hove Park ward will move into Brighton North. The local opposition to this is rightly huge and makes it extremely unlikely that the current boundary proposals will stand, which will mean they will have to be radically revised.

    Therefore it is imperative that we have a plan B, which is what Jon and I (and Cllr Lloyd Russell Moyle in Kemptown) have proposed.

    2. I also don’t recognise your stats “based” on local election results. You don’t explain how they are worked out, and I believe they are misleading. From my figures using actual local election (top candidate for each party) results, the Tories win Brighton North and the support for the Greens in Brighton Central and Hove would make them a real threat to take this seat from Peter Kyle, especially if Caroline Lucas looks at the higher number of Green voters in Brighton Central and Hove and decides that this is her true “successor” seat to Pavilion and not Brighton North.

    So for these reasons I believe Jon is absolutely right to point out that a threat to Pavilion, is a threat to our chances at the next general election.

    I also believe it is important we keep as close to current boundaries as possible, not only to reduce confusion for voters, but also for projected demographic movements of support, which will be more advantageous to Labour in future boundary reviews that follow on from a review that keeps Hove and Pavilion distinct rather than the current proposals. Under the current proposals, the Kemptown/East Brighton seat would be well out of reach of a Labour victory, even with a significant improval in our national support.

    For these reasons I believe your position is not only unattainable, it is a very risky and short term strategy. I hope you can recognise this and in the interests of comradery reconsider your position.

    Yours sincerely

    Neil Harding

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