Print this Post

Constituency Boundary Changes – Radley to become part of Henley constituency

In the biggest shakeup of the electoral system in a generation, the Boundary Commission for England has recommended 502 new larger parliamentary constituencies in England, 31 fewer than at present, which, together with proposed changes in other parts of the UK, would have the effect of reducing the total number of parliamentary seats from 650 to 600.

Among the proposed changes, Oxford West and Abingdon will become Oxford North and Abingdon, but is largely unchanged, except that Radley will move to an enlarged Henley constituency, which will also extend northwards taking in Middleton Stoney, Launton and part of the northern outskirts of Bicester. See map. The neighbouring parishes of Kennington and Sunningwell, would remain in the Abingdon and North Oxford constituency.


At present, these are initial proposals but changes are not straightforward to make as the number of electors in each constituency has to be maintained. (The problem would be that Oxford West and Abingdon has too many electors, so something somewhere else would have to change.)

A public consultation is currently taking place. To find out more about the proposed changes and why they are being made, and, to have your say, visit


The consultation is open until 5th December 2011.

Update 04 November 2012
If you thought that the Boundary Commission would quickly see the absurdity of the proposal and leave Radley where it belongs, think again!

The Commission has published its latest report following the 2011 public consultation. While there have been some revisions affecting Oxfordshire, mostly relating to the naming of revised constituencies, the Commission has retained the proposal to move Radley Ward into Henley, despite strong representations by our MP and by the Liberal Democrats. The fact that Radley is completely divided from Henley by the River Thames and neighbouring parishes, which would remain in Oxford West and Abingdon, and has no strong community and cultural links with the neighbouring Henley ward (Nuneham courtenay and Culham) and that the proposals would therefore make Radley a detached ward (one with no physical connection with the constituency in which it lies) seem to have been ignored in the interests of expediency.


At paragraph AC420 in their report on the post consultation revisions, the Commission states

… However, there clearly are more issues with the detachment of the Radley ward from the Vale of White Horse and its addition to the Henley constituency.
AC421 This is not popular with many local residents in Radley, and its more natural links clearly are with Abingdon. However, the more rural nature of the ward (electorate of 1,982) aligns it with Henley far better than the counter-proposals to include the very urban Oxford wards of either Blackbird Leys (4,024) and Northfield Brook (4,195) with their integral links with Cowley; or Barton and Sandhills (4,782) and Quarry and Risinghurst (4,424), impacting on links and ties across urban east Oxford.
AC422 Having given careful consideration to all the issues put before us, we take the view that the Commission’s initial proposals do provide the best solution for the overall composition of constituencies in Oxfordshire and, within the statutory requirements, are the least disruptive and best that can be achieved when judged against the key criteria.
AC423 We therefore recommend the adoption of the Commission’s initial proposals for the six constituencies in the Oxfordshire sub-region.


Strangely, in relation to analternative proposal to attach Littlemore, Northfield Brook, Blackbird Leys and Barton to Henley, the Commission, at para AC406, cites, in support of rejecting the proposal, Andrew Smith MP who states,

‘Anyone who knows the area knows what a sharp distinction there is between the estates of Littlemore, Northfield Brook, Blackbird Leys and Barton and their rural hinterland. For example any proposal to transfer Blackbird Leys and Northfield Brook wards to the Henley constituency would be a grotesque breach of community ties. Both wards are an integral part of the urban community of Oxford. As a Blackbird Leys resident myself, I can say with absolute confidence that local people would feel that such a change would fly totally in the face of strong family, employment and social ties with Cowley and the rest of Oxford.’

Surely much the same can be said of Radley in relation to its ties with Abingdon and the neighbouring rural parishes of Kennington and Sunningwell? It just needs to be said a bit more loudly.

The proposals, in more or less their present form, are likely to be put to a House of Commons vote next year.
However the result may not be a foregone conclusion. Lib Dem MPs have vowed to vote against the proposals in retaliation for the defeat over the House of Lords reform. If they do and if Labour vote against them as well, they may well not get through. However boundary changes to equalise constituency sizes will happen sooner or later and it is important that objections to the currently proposed changes are registered now in order that more sensible solutions be found.

A final consultation on the revised proposals is open until December 10.

See http://consultation.boundarycommissionforengland.independent.gov.uk.


It is also worth emailing our MP, nicola.blackwood.mp@parliament.uk

Update 14/02/2013

True to their word, the Lib Dems have effectively seen off these proposals. On the 14th January, the House of Lords passed an amendment to the 2013 Electoral Registration and Administration Bill effectively postponing any boundary changes for 5 years until 2018. A vote in the Commons on 29th January failed to defeat the amendment. On 31st January, the Bill received Royal Assent and the four Boundary Commissions announced the termination of the 2013 Review.

Thus the parliamentary boundaries in the UK will remain as they are for now, but the proposal (to move Radley “across the river” into Henley) seems likely to reemerge in 2015, which is when the Boundary Commission will present their proposals under the next review.

Related Links

Abingdon Herald 24 October 2012

2012 Consultation

Boundary Commission for England website

The new political map at Guardian,co.uk

Another version of it at Telegraph.co.uk

Map of the proposed Henley constituency (pdf)

Map of proposed Oxford North and Abingdon constituency (pdf)

Nicola Blackwood MP

Permanent link to this article: http://www.radleyvillage.org.uk/constituency-boundary-changes-radley-to-become-part-of-henley-constituency/