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Author Topic: Political and administrative boundaries - Reading and beyond  (Read 4156 times)
CyclingSid
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« on: November 10, 2019, 08:48:05 am »

(mod note - split from http://www.firstgreatwestern.info/coffeeshop/index.php?topic=14689.3435 )

"Reading’s daft political boundaries" aren't entirely Reading's fault. Thanks to the boundary commission we now have four Tilehurst wards, three in W Berks & one in Reading. Recipe for confusion?
« Last Edit: November 18, 2019, 12:43:32 pm by Richard Fairhurst » Logged
bobm
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« Reply #1 on: November 10, 2019, 09:00:39 am »

To say nothing of the boundary passing through the middle of the site for Green Park Station which has added to the problems getting that built.
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stuving
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« Reply #2 on: November 10, 2019, 09:30:14 am »

"Reading’s daft political boundaries" aren't entirely Reading's fault. Thanks to the boundary commission we now have four Tilehurst wards, three in W Berks & one in Reading. Recipe for confusion?

I think it was the Local Government Boundary Commission for England that defined and named the wards. The Boundary Commission only does parliamenttary constituencies, which have for some time been put together from bits of places to balance numbers. Of course the main source of "Reading’s daft political boundaries" was the LGBCE's precursor, the Local Government Commission for England, insisting the unitaries too should be of equal weight despite Reading obviously being bigger than that.
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BBM
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« Reply #3 on: November 10, 2019, 11:01:25 am »

Another example of strange local boundaries is at Earley station - the forecourt and car park are in Earley but the station itself is in Woodley!
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stuving
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« Reply #4 on: November 10, 2019, 11:41:24 am »

Another example of strange local boundaries is at Earley station - the forecourt and car park are in Earley but the station itself is in Woodley!

At least that's only a parish boundary - I don't think they do anything important that affects railways, do they? The Reading/Wokingham division is more important, since it means things can't happen without some degree of collaboration or at least agreement. We saw that can go very wrong with the bus expressway thingy Reading wanted beside the Thames. But then the idea that you can do transport planning at such a low level is ... subunanimous.

More generally, putting the boundary inside greater Reading creates a lot of areas where both councils are involved. The Green Park one is particularly silly, as that bit of Wokingham is a detached fragment created by a previous boundary change. The boundary also divides Green (business) Park and Tesco's warehouse (ex-Bright Beer Factory), and the university's Whiteknights campus. The LGCE (Banham Commossion) had some fixed objectives for dismembering counties, one of which was to minimise joint working, and concluded that a population of 200,000 was enough to do everything (which it isn't, really). Newbury and Wokingham were too  small so had bits of Reading transferred to them. But, as we've seen, that boundary does not even minimise the need for joint working.
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martyjon
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« Reply #5 on: November 10, 2019, 12:26:57 pm »

Hows this for parish boundaries.

I can go to my local precinct on a Sinday morning and go to church at 10.30 for the morning service in one parish, leave church and walk across the precinct to the newsagents in a second parish to buy my Sunday paper, then make for the pub to read said Sunday rag with my Sunday lunchtime pint in a third parish and then if inquisative enough can leave the pub after my Sunday lunchtime pint to seek out the stub left by Ordnance Survey which marks the meeting point of all three parishes.
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eightonedee
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« Reply #6 on: November 10, 2019, 01:16:01 pm »

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Newbury and Wokingham were too  small so had bits of Reading transferred to them. But, as we've seen, that boundary does not even minimise the need for joint working.

I don't think that is the reason Stuving. Reading is a classic example of an underbounded settlement, which has outgrown its original borough boundaries, and where the many (in my view) badly thought out, politically manipulated local government boundary changes have not addressed the issue. The current boundaries represent old parish boundaries going back centuries, the boundaries for counties, boroughs, urban and rural district councils set up under the 1888 and 1894 local government legislation.

Those rural and urban districts adjacent to larger boroughs (Bradfield RDC, Henley RDC, Wokingham UDC in the case of Reading) ended up providing/hosting much of the post-war suburban development. An attempt was made to put a more sensible regional structure to local government, but it ran into a lot of local opposition, so we were left after the implementation of the 1972 Local Government Act with many of the anomalies referred to in this thread left outstanding, or at least anomalous partial addressing of them. They are still endless - Newmarket in Suffolk is almost impossible to get into without driving through Cambridgeshire, you lose count of the number of time you pass back and forth between Bucks, Herts and Beds if you drive up the Icknield Way (B4009/B489) from Princes Risborough to Dunstable, and so on.

The only changes made to Reading's borough boundary are where suburban Caversham and Mapledurham have encroached into Oxfordshire, and those built up areas have transferred into Reading. But influential folk in Oxfordshire lobbied against the eminently sensible move of the RG postcode areas of Oxfordshire moving to Berkshire, so it didn't happen, so those gravel pits converted into a marina you see on the other side of the Thames as you leave on a train towards Paddington, which you cannot access by road except from the borough, are in Oxon - county authority base in Oxford, second tier authority in Abingdon.


The more recent local government changes, and the haphazard spread of unitary authorities has been (in my view) and badly thought out botched result of political pressure on the Boundary Commission. How else can you justify all of Wiltshire being in one unitary authority but it's largest settlement, Swindon, isolated in the middle as a separate authority. It all makes cross-boundary working difficult. It does though suit the Labour Party - underbounded towns and cities means there are still local authorities they have a hope of keeping under their control in southern Britain, while the Conservative and Lib Dems benefit from suburban and rural second-tier or unitary authorities where Labour voters have largely vanished since the 1960s.     

For sensible planning, we need to tear up all this, and start again based on travel to work/communications networks - already reflected in the postcode district system.
« Last Edit: November 10, 2019, 01:41:11 pm by eightonedee » Logged
Reading General
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« Reply #7 on: November 10, 2019, 01:37:10 pm »

Where Reading is concerned, the boundaries simply need to cover the urban area north of the M4 and from Purley to Woodley. West berks is fine controlling rural areas west of Reading and split what’s left of Wokingham’s district between Bracknell for south of the motorway and Windsor & Maidenhead to the north. None of this will ever happen though unless central government steps in, and it’s a very low priority. Bristol has a similar problem with leech like suburbia.
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stuving
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« Reply #8 on: November 10, 2019, 02:48:37 pm »

Where Reading is concerned, the boundaries simply need to cover the urban area north of the M4 and from Purley to Woodley. West berks is fine controlling rural areas west of Reading and split what’s left of Wokingham’s district between Bracknell for south of the motorway and Windsor & Maidenhead to the north. None of this will ever happen though unless central government steps in, and it’s a very low priority. Bristol has a similar problem with leech like suburbia.

That's more or less what the Commission's draft report proposed - with two options, of greater or lesser greater Reading, small Slough and Newbury, and the rest as "Royal East Berkshire". They specifically ruled out traditional boundaries being important, and wanted coherent areas. That may have pleased Reading, but annoyed all those merged places, full of cloutful people.

Unfortunately I can't find the final report, which proposed roughly what we have now but merging Bracknell with Windsor & Maidenhead (overruled by the government). So what I remember is perhaps the justification given for that plan B proposal, but in reality it was pressure against change from all levels of "important people".

(Report in this page - not linked to from LGBCE's own site. As noted, the links to most of the final reports don't work.)
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eightonedee
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« Reply #9 on: November 10, 2019, 05:51:13 pm »

Quote
Posted by: Reading General
Insert Quote
Where Reading is concerned, the boundaries simply need to cover the urban area north of the M4 and from Purley to Woodley. West berks is fine controlling rural areas west of Reading and split what’s left of Wokingham’s district between Bracknell for south of the motorway and Windsor & Maidenhead to the north. None of this will ever happen though unless central government steps in, and it’s a very low priority. Bristol has a similar problem with leech like suburbia.

Hmm..

I am not so sure - I think that you really need to add the Winnersh to Wokingham area into this too. The ONC regards this together as one conurbation, and I think it is logical, making the (now diminishing) break between Wokingham and Bracknell the eastern boundary. Won't go down well with Reading Labour as it dilutes their powerbase. Add largely "blue" (at least pre-Brexit) Purley, Caversham and Wokingham together and you might have a real political battle ground!

And RG11 areas should really belong with an East Berks authority, RG8 with a West Berks authority.

Is it time to set up a separate local government boundary area thread?
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Reading General
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« Reply #10 on: November 10, 2019, 06:23:02 pm »

Indeed, and this is why I see them as political boundaries. None of the councils want to change boundaries for fear of tipping the balance. Some statistics include the whole urban area, some don’t, depending on the advantage of the statistics. I don’t believe any stats about my home town.

And yes.... way off topic.
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ellendune
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« Reply #11 on: November 10, 2019, 07:14:51 pm »

How else can you justify all of Wiltshire being in one unitary authority but it's largest settlement, Swindon, isolated in the middle as a separate authority. It all makes cross-boundary working difficult.

Ummmm.  I think you need to look at a map.

Swindon unitary authority is indeed bounded by Wiltshire to the west and south, but its eastern boundary is with Oxfordshire and its northern boundary is with Gloucestershire. So it is far from isolated in the middle. It is in the north eastern corner of the ceremonial county of Wiltshire.

However, having Royal Wootton Bassett just outside the boundary and essentially a suburb does lead to some problems

For sensible planning, we need to tear up all this, and start again based on travel to work/communications networks - already reflected in the postcode district system.

Can't disagree that the system needs looking at, but not sure that the postcode districts are the answer.  Chippenham and Melksham are in different postcode districts should they be in different Local Authorities?

People look different ways so someone who lives in Chippenham but works in Swindon might think it natural to have an SN postcode, but one who works in Bath or Bristol might think it odd. Similarly there are people inS windon who look east to Oxfordshire and Reading, while others look West to Bath and Bristol, and Still others who look north or south to Cirencester or Marlborough. 

The Post Office have merged them together so that AIUI mail from OX and RG postcodes is sorted in Swindon so effectively OX, RG and SN  postcodes are all one area. 

Apologies for continuing the drift off topic.
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TaplowGreen
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« Reply #12 on: November 10, 2019, 08:20:58 pm »

Fascinating stuff.......and absolutely nothing to do with Infrastructure problems in the Thames Valley!  Grin
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IndustryInsider
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« Reply #13 on: November 10, 2019, 09:33:46 pm »

Fascinating stuff.......and absolutely nothing to do with Infrastructure problems in the Thames Valley!  Grin

Not unusual for this thread!   Cheesy
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CyclingSid
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« Reply #14 on: November 11, 2019, 07:13:48 am »

Further ruminations in the undergrowth.

Royal East Berkshire was never going to happen, Bracknell and Slough could see they would get the short straw from the other two authorities.

The current arrangements work nicely for Wokingham and West Berkshire because most greater Reading residents are never entirely sure which authority they are in. This allows Wokingham and West Berkshire to concentrate their housing developments along the Reading boundaries and people think it is Reading concreting over the countryside. Just don't mention the concept of the city of Reading, they can't manage what they have without giving them a bigger ego trip.

Interestingly for wider housing planning the groupings were West of Berkshire; West Berkshire, Reading, Wokingham and Bracknell. East Berkshire; Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead, Slough and South Bucks, now there is a marriage made in heaven.

They do actually have a legal duty to co-operate!
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