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Comment: Unique estate keeps Labour's red flag flying - for now
South Oxhey is a community like no other in Three Rivers and that has in recent years proved to be the case in how it is represented politically.
The former London County Council estate looks – and feels – distinct from the rest of the area and in the spirit of being deliberately different, the residents tend to favour Labour councillors to represent them on the Lib Dem dominated Three Rivers District Council.
Presently, six of the seven seats in the three wards of Ashridge, Hayling and Northwick are held by Labour councillors. A single Conservative councillor occupies the final place.
And while Labour has not managed to secure a foothold anywhere else in the district on the estate, it would seem, the party’s stock has never been higher.
The 2012 local elections saw Labour make gains in Ashridge and Northwick, all but wiping out their opponents.
This May, the county council seat also swung towards the red rose after the shock election of the British National Party candidate to the seat in 2009. So strong is the individual identity of the area that a recent public consultation into boundary changes attracted 264 representations.
The majority of correspondents wrote to oppose vociferously any suggestion South Oxhey should be lumped in with its neighbours in Oxhey Hall or Carpenders Park or be represented by outsiders, something Labour unequivocally agrees on.
However, there may be another reason for the party’s desire to keep South Oxhey together.
I can’t think of any party that has more to lose from the introduction of three ward-boundaries as proposed by the boundary commission than Labour.
The move risks seeing large tranches of Labour supporters mixed in with the majority Lib Dem voters of Carpenders Park and Oxhey Hall.
There are other areas of the district where enacting the recommendations of the boundary commission could prompt an electoral shift, but the worst case scenario would see Labour reduced to a single three-seat ward within a few years.
The estate’s elected district councillors will have more than earned their corn recently in fighting for the interests of “their” residents.
Considering what is at stake, you could be forgiven for assuming a councillor speaking on behalf of residents, and fighting to keep a closely knit estate together, would live in the community they represent, yet this is not always the case.
When it comes to South Oxhey, two of the six Labour councillorslive on the estate – as many as live in Abbots Langley with others living in Carpenders Park and Croxley Green.
There is no suggestion these councillors or any others have acted improperly by standing in an area that more closely matches their own political views – councillors from all three parties live in different parts of the district to those they represent.
But when so much of your support is so neatly located in one area that identifies itself so distinctly, one has to wonder why you would choose to live outside it.
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