I am here to argue against the proposal to move Tufnell Park ward in Islington (until recently named St George’s ward) from the Islington North constituency into the proposed new Kentish Town and Bloomsbury constituency.
I have been a resident of Tufnell Park ward for 18 years, previously living in Camden Town. I have two young children attending primary school locally and work just over the border from Islington in the City of London.
I represent Islington Green Party, but as a resident of the affected ward I also speak as a private concerned citizen.
We are concerned at the proposal to split off a single ward from Islington and to place it in a constituency which is 9/10ths made up of wards in Camden. The borough boundaries have formed the edges of the constituency of Islington North since it was created and we think the proposed changes will have a detrimental effect on community services, community cohesion and local democracy.
Tufnell Park ward contains several community facilities that are linked to wider networks in Islington.
- There is a very successful community centre (the Hilldrop Community Centre) which is part of the Islington community centres group.
- There are two local authority primary school, Tufnell Park Primary and Yerbury Primary. Yerbury draws exclusively from a small Islington catchment area and Tufnell Park Primary (which my children attend, and I was a school governor) only attracts a tiny proportion of its students from Camden, despite being the largest primary school in Islington.
- There is a local authority secondary school, Beacon High, which is part of the Islington Futures Federation of Community Schools.
- There is a parish church, St George’s, which is part of the Stepney Diocese which covers Hackney, Islington and Tower Hamlets.
There is also a secondary school for children with special educational needs, with a primary department located just over Camden Road in Holloway ward which is destined to remain in the Islington North constituency.
Having lived in the area for many years I can testify that Tufnell Park is a highly cohesive community with only limited ties that extend into Kentish Town across the natural border that is Brecknock, but with strong ties that embrace the population on the other side of the Holloway Road in Tollington ward and around the Nag’s Head shopping area.
Holloway Road and Nag’s Head is the natural centre to which all local life gravitates. Sure, people will visit the shops in the Kentish Town area, but for most this more exception than rule.
Camden is not the natural home for the residents of Tufnell Park. It is truly Islington.
The realisation of the Holloway Prison redevelopment project which will introduce nearly 3,500 new residents into this ward will further move the centre of gravity toward the Holloway Road, which is not away from it and that is what it will be connect to.
I also note that local people identify as part of Islington and it will be very confusing to vote for Ward Councillors within the Borough of Islington and yet have to elect a MP who covers an area dominated by wards that were all previously already tied together.
I note also that the current size of the Islington North constituency (around 75,000 on the electoral register) suggests that no adjustment is required at all.
Should the Boundary Commission persist with the idea that Boundary changes are required in this part of London, with which Islington Green Party does not agree, then we would argue that it is Junction ward is moved into Kentish Town and Bloomsbury instead of Tufnell Park.
We note that in the 2018 Boundary Commission review both Tufnell Park and Junction wards were candidates to be moved into the Camden seat. We believe that Junction Ward is the stronger candidate to be moved and has stronger ties to the Camden area than Tufnell Park ward.
- Junction ward contains Archway station, a well-used station serving 8.7 million passengers a year. Tufnell Park station meanwhile serves less than half at 4.05 million.
- Archway station represents a much more significant shared transport hub, with residents in Highgate (Camden), Highgate (Haringey) and Islington (Junction) using the station.
- Junction ward also features the shops around Archway station, which is one of the biggest high streets north of Holloway Nags Head. It includes multiple supermarkets and a post office. This is a much more significant shopping hub than in Tufnell Park. Junction Road and area is somewhere Camden residents and Islington residents will shop at, meanwhile Tufnell Park features no similar shopping hub of significance.
Indeed, as noted before, many Tufnell Park residents are more likely to travel to Holloway Nags Head, which is firmly in Islington.
I recognise the very difficult task that the Boundary Commission has but would ask it to think again in relation to this proposal and to enable the strong local community links to remain in place across Islington North.
– Roderik Gonggrijp, on behalf of Islington Green Party