diamond geezer

 Sunday, July 07, 2024

The General Election has seen Labour strengthen its hold over the capital with 59 MPs, while the Liberal Democrats have doubled their total to 6 and the Conservatives slumped to just 9. The electoral map of London is thus almost all red, with a yellow bloc to the southwest and a few blue holdouts in the far corners.

But there is one place in London - just one - where constituencies of all three colours meet. I have of course been, and this is what that electoral triple point looks like.

It looks like a mess.

In the foreground are five traffic cones, a locked gate, two portaloos and a skip piled high with wooden benches, surplus netting and a wheelbarrow. This is the constituency of Croydon West and it's held by Labour.
The hedge to the left conceals a private gated development called Redstacks Court. The boundary bends round to include the pavement where I was standing. This is the constituency of Croydon South and it's held by the Conservatives.
The trees in the background are part of the back garden of Pixie Cottage, the first house on a gravelly private road called Overhill Road. This is the constituency of Carshalton and Wallington and it's held by the Liberal Democrats.

We're in Purley, just to the north of the town centre, close to the junction of Highfield Road and Purley Way. The precise triple point (where playing field meets hedge meets back garden) is back left in my photo, pretty much exactly behind the upturned wheelbarrow. It's also sadly off-limits, the gates to the playing field being firmly locked, but that didn't stop me from exploring the three disparate constituencies to compare and contrast.
Croydon West
Sarah Jones [Lab] 20,612 (54%)
Simon Fox [Con] 6,386 (17%)
Ria Patel [Green] 3,851 (10%)
This new constituency includes Croydon town centre and stretches as far north as Thornton Heath. This however is the very southern tip, a long green tail hanging down towards Purley consisting entirely of recreational space. The skip at the tip is part of Thomas More Catholic School's playing field and at weekends is home to Shelton Athletic FC, a somewhat nomadic youth team originally based in Surrey. I assume they still play here anyway, because their website went very quiet last year which may explain the pile of soccer detritus in that skip. Thankfully most of the 100 acres of grass alongside Purley Way is fully accessible, and at this time of year the unmown part brims with brightly-coloured wildflowers and is absolutely glorious.

I weaved my way in through a patch of woodland at the end of Overhill Road where the edge of the constituency is marked by a 19th century Croydon Parish boundary post and a 21st century anti-motorbike barrier. In this remotest corner of Croydon West I found a carpet of buzzy clover, a pile of unwanted fence panels and my first two constituents... although they were two shaggy ponies and they didn't have a vote. From up here the horizon is expansive and dominated by the skyscrapers of central Croydon, but also visible is the distant upthrust of Nine Elms and the City cluster of silver spires. Only two of the dozens of public pitches were occupied during my visit, however, and the general ambience from the changing rooms and pavilions reeked of municipal abandonment.

You have to walk half a mile to find the constituency's first substantial building and that's a derelict warehouse. Next comes Costco (where non-skint constituents were queueing out of the door for bargains), then a TGI Fridays (which is probably what Sir Keir was thinking after the election). This being a Labour constituency there's culture in the form of the museum at the former Croydon airport terminal (open today, but all sold out) and also a bustling leisure park where these days the 'entertainment' is mostly food. Only when you reach Waddon Way do the suburban streets with actual electors begin, their first flank noticeably less prosperous than in the other two constituencies surrounding the triple point, which by now is a full mile distant.
Croydon South
Chris Philp [Con] 19,757 (40%)
Ben Taylor [Lab] 17,444 (35%)
Richard Howard [Lib Dem] 4,384 (9%)
This constituency is well named, stretching south from South Croydon to Old Coulsdon at the southern tip of the borough. It includes the entire town of Purley and all its hilly fingers, a switchback of leafy avenues lightly lined by spacious detached houses. In the 1980s it was supposedly the home of Terry & June, the perfectly-pitched suburban sitcom couple (although all the exterior filming took place a few miles away in the constituency I'm writing about next). Up by the triple-point the avenues are particularly broad, especially out towards Woodcote, and the parish church has the dosh to display its name in neon. This is such quintessentially Tory territory that one £2m pile has both a Landrover Discovery and a Conservative election poster out front, one displayed less shamelessly than the other.

Education round here is dominated by private schools - so much so that all the little roadside adverts planted on roundabouts and verges feature smiling prep school pupils in impeccably smart uniforms. Even the nearest faith schools look private, locked away in a huge woody enclave at the top of Russell Hill. This is a street which undergoes a wild transformation from top to bottom, first big villas then an increasing number of building sites on their former footprints cramming in hundreds of highrise vernacular flats. The final crescent was massively upgraded when Purley Way was built, feeding Brighton-bound traffic past a Mock Tudor parade which even now caters for important right-wing needs by including a fireplace showroom, an Argentinian steakhouse and a Wetherspoons.

To see Conservative policies in action we need go no further than the gyratory island at Purley Cross. The local Baptist church worked out it could it make a tidy sum by shifting slightly and getting itself replaced by 220 flats (first phase affordable, second phase not), a scheme which will peak with a 17 storey 'landmark' tower. Meanwhile the library nextdoor limps on in a Grade II listed building that's seen better days and, amazingly for a town the size of Purley, now only opens two days a week. Ostensibly this is the fault of Croydon's multiply-bankrupt council and the Labour administration's budget mismanagement, but the ultimately source of the problem was a relentless funding squeeze by central government. Croydon South's constituents got what they voted for.
Carshalton and Wallington
Bobby Dean [Lib Dem] 20,126 (43%)
Elliot Colburn [Con] 12,221 (26%)
Hersh Thaker [Lab] 6,108 (13%)
We switch boroughs for this third constituency, this being the eastern half of Sutton. It seems amazing that you can cross a hedge and suddenly find yourself in a safe Lib Dem constituency, but it only looks safe this weekend after three decades as a blue/orange marginal. At its eastern tip it's just as stockbroker belt as the adjacent Croydon avenues, kicking off by the triple point with the aforementioned private Overhill Road. This short road starts with a chain and a warning not to park here, and ends with a gauche mini-fortress with a veranda and space to park six cars, which its owner has self-consciously decided to name Dream Villa. You can tell cars are important round here because even the adverts for Purley Dental Practice don't mention how good they are with teeth, only that We Have Excellent Parking Facilities.

Find your way out past the school playing fields and you'll reach Roundshaw Downs, 90 acres of chalk grassland which again are currently a riot of long grasses and wild flowers. That's because they form a contiguous greenspace with the recreation ground in my first constituency with the Croydon/Sutton boundary running semi-imperceptibly between the two. And the sprawling similarity is because all this used to be the site of Croydon Aerodrome, later the first London Airport, which since the shift to Heath Row has been almost entirely erased apart from a few patches of apron. How typical of a Lib Dem stronghold that the heart of a carbon-belching planet killer should have been replaced by a wildlife haven ideal for walking the dog, several decades before anyone realised there was a problem.

On the far side is the Roundshaw Estate, a salutary reminder that not everyone round here lives comfortably. It was built in the late 1960s across the western tips of the two ex-runways and comprised well over 1000 council houses along streets and cul-de-sacs given suitably aeronautic names. Unfortunately the layout wasn't great and concrete cancer proved intractable so most of the flats and maisonettes have been substantially upgraded or entirely replaced. It must be better now because I spotted an Audi TT Coupé parked outside a fairly lowly end terrace on Brabazon Avenue and a few semi-smart dads cheering on their footballing offspring from Lindbergh Avenue. But this likely isn't the most Lib Dem patch of Carshalton and Wallington, indeed no constituency is a uniform stereotypical easily-generalised district, it all depends which way you look... as this lone triple point in south London confirms.

<< click for Newer posts

click for Older Posts >>

click to return to the main page

...or read more in my monthly archives
Jan24  Feb24  Mar24  Apr24  May24  Jun24  Jul24
Jan23  Feb23  Mar23  Apr23  May23  Jun23  Jul23  Aug23  Sep23  Oct23  Nov23  Dec23
Jan22  Feb22  Mar22  Apr22  May22  Jun22  Jul22  Aug22  Sep22  Oct22  Nov22  Dec22
Jan21  Feb21  Mar21  Apr21  May21  Jun21  Jul21  Aug21  Sep21  Oct21  Nov21  Dec21
Jan20  Feb20  Mar20  Apr20  May20  Jun20  Jul20  Aug20  Sep20  Oct20  Nov20  Dec20
Jan19  Feb19  Mar19  Apr19  May19  Jun19  Jul19  Aug19  Sep19  Oct19  Nov19  Dec19
Jan18  Feb18  Mar18  Apr18  May18  Jun18  Jul18  Aug18  Sep18  Oct18  Nov18  Dec18
Jan17  Feb17  Mar17  Apr17  May17  Jun17  Jul17  Aug17  Sep17  Oct17  Nov17  Dec17
Jan16  Feb16  Mar16  Apr16  May16  Jun16  Jul16  Aug16  Sep16  Oct16  Nov16  Dec16
Jan15  Feb15  Mar15  Apr15  May15  Jun15  Jul15  Aug15  Sep15  Oct15  Nov15  Dec15
Jan14  Feb14  Mar14  Apr14  May14  Jun14  Jul14  Aug14  Sep14  Oct14  Nov14  Dec14
Jan13  Feb13  Mar13  Apr13  May13  Jun13  Jul13  Aug13  Sep13  Oct13  Nov13  Dec13
Jan12  Feb12  Mar12  Apr12  May12  Jun12  Jul12  Aug12  Sep12  Oct12  Nov12  Dec12
Jan11  Feb11  Mar11  Apr11  May11  Jun11  Jul11  Aug11  Sep11  Oct11  Nov11  Dec11
Jan10  Feb10  Mar10  Apr10  May10  Jun10  Jul10  Aug10  Sep10  Oct10  Nov10  Dec10 
Jan09  Feb09  Mar09  Apr09  May09  Jun09  Jul09  Aug09  Sep09  Oct09  Nov09  Dec09
Jan08  Feb08  Mar08  Apr08  May08  Jun08  Jul08  Aug08  Sep08  Oct08  Nov08  Dec08
Jan07  Feb07  Mar07  Apr07  May07  Jun07  Jul07  Aug07  Sep07  Oct07  Nov07  Dec07
Jan06  Feb06  Mar06  Apr06  May06  Jun06  Jul06  Aug06  Sep06  Oct06  Nov06  Dec06
Jan05  Feb05  Mar05  Apr05  May05  Jun05  Jul05  Aug05  Sep05  Oct05  Nov05  Dec05
Jan04  Feb04  Mar04  Apr04  May04  Jun04  Jul04  Aug04  Sep04  Oct04  Nov04  Dec04
Jan03  Feb03  Mar03  Apr03  May03  Jun03  Jul03  Aug03  Sep03  Oct03  Nov03  Dec03
 Jan02  Feb02  Mar02  Apr02  May02  Jun02  Jul02 Aug02  Sep02  Oct02  Nov02  Dec02 

jack of diamonds
Life viewed from London E3

» email me
» follow me on twitter
» follow the blog on Twitter
» follow the blog on RSS

» my flickr photostream

twenty blogs
our bow
ian visits
broken tv
blue witch
on london
the great wen
edith's streets
spitalfields life
round the island
wanstead meteo
christopher fowler
the greenwich wire
bus and train user
ruth's coastal walk
round the rails we go
london reconnections
from the murky depths

quick reference features
Things to do in Outer London
Things to do outside London
London's waymarked walks
Inner London toilet map
20 years of blog series
The DG Tour of Britain
London's most...

read the archive
Jul24  Jun24  May24
Apr24  Mar24  Feb24  Jan24
Dec23  Nov23  Oct23  Sep23
Aug23  Jul23  Jun23  May23
Apr23  Mar23  Feb23  Jan23
Dec22  Nov22  Oct22  Sep22
Aug22  Jul22  Jun22  May22
Apr22  Mar22  Feb22  Jan22
Dec21  Nov21  Oct21  Sep21
Aug21  Jul21  Jun21  May21
Apr21  Mar21  Feb21  Jan21
Dec20  Nov20  Oct20  Sep20
Aug20  Jul20  Jun20  May20
Apr20  Mar20  Feb20  Jan20
Dec19  Nov19  Oct19  Sep19
Aug19  Jul19  Jun19  May19
Apr19  Mar19  Feb19  Jan19
Dec18  Nov18  Oct18  Sep18
Aug18  Jul18  Jun18  May18
Apr18  Mar18  Feb18  Jan18
Dec17  Nov17  Oct17  Sep17
Aug17  Jul17  Jun17  May17
Apr17  Mar17  Feb17  Jan17
Dec16  Nov16  Oct16  Sep16
Aug16  Jul16  Jun16  May16
Apr16  Mar16  Feb16  Jan16
Dec15  Nov15  Oct15  Sep15
Aug15  Jul15  Jun15  May15
Apr15  Mar15  Feb15  Jan15
Dec14  Nov14  Oct14  Sep14
Aug14  Jul14  Jun14  May14
Apr14  Mar14  Feb14  Jan14
Dec13  Nov13  Oct13  Sep13
Aug13  Jul13  Jun13  May13
Apr13  Mar13  Feb13  Jan13
Dec12  Nov12  Oct12  Sep12
Aug12  Jul12  Jun12  May12
Apr12  Mar12  Feb12  Jan12
Dec11  Nov11  Oct11  Sep11
Aug11  Jul11  Jun11  May11
Apr11  Mar11  Feb11  Jan11
Dec10  Nov10  Oct10  Sep10
Aug10  Jul10  Jun10  May10
Apr10  Mar10  Feb10  Jan10
Dec09  Nov09  Oct09  Sep09
Aug09  Jul09  Jun09  May09
Apr09  Mar09  Feb09  Jan09
Dec08  Nov08  Oct08  Sep08
Aug08  Jul08  Jun08  May08
Apr08  Mar08  Feb08  Jan08
Dec07  Nov07  Oct07  Sep07
Aug07  Jul07  Jun07  May07
Apr07  Mar07  Feb07  Jan07
Dec06  Nov06  Oct06  Sep06
Aug06  Jul06  Jun06  May06
Apr06  Mar06  Feb06  Jan06
Dec05  Nov05  Oct05  Sep05
Aug05  Jul05  Jun05  May05
Apr05  Mar05  Feb05  Jan05
Dec04  Nov04  Oct04  Sep04
Aug04  Jul04  Jun04  May04
Apr04  Mar04  Feb04  Jan04
Dec03  Nov03  Oct03  Sep03
Aug03  Jul03  Jun03  May03
Apr03  Mar03  Feb03  Jan03
Dec02  Nov02  Oct02  Sep02
back to main page

the diamond geezer index
2023 2022
2021 2020 2019 2018 2017
2016 2015 2014 2013 2012
2011 2010 2009 2008 2007
2006 2005 2004 2003 2002

my special London features
a-z of london museums
E3 - local history month
greenwich meridian (N)
greenwich meridian (S)
the real eastenders
london's lost rivers
olympic park 2007
great british roads
oranges & lemons
random boroughs
bow road station
high street 2012
river westbourne
trafalgar square
capital numbers
east london line
lea valley walk
olympics 2005
regent's canal
square routes
silver jubilee
unlost rivers
cube routes
Herbert Dip
capital ring
river fleet

ten of my favourite posts
the seven ages of blog
my new Z470xi mobile
five equations of blog
the dome of doom
chemical attraction
quality & risk
london 2102
single life
april fool

ten sets of lovely photos
my "most interesting" photos
london 2012 olympic zone
harris and the hebrides
betjeman's metro-land
marking the meridian
tracing the river fleet
london's lost rivers
inside the gherkin
seven sisters

just surfed in?
here's where to find...
diamond geezers
flash mob #1  #2  #3  #4
ben schott's miscellany
london underground
watch with mother
cigarette warnings
digital time delay
wheelie suitcases
war of the worlds
transit of venus
top of the pops
old buckenham
ladybird books
acorn antiques
digital watches
outer hebrides
olympics 2012
school dinners
pet shop boys
west wycombe
bletchley park
george orwell
big breakfast
clapton pond
san francisco
children's tv
east enders
trunk roads
little britain
credit cards
jury service
big brother
jubilee line
number 1s
titan arum
doctor who
blue peter
peter pan
feng shui
leap year
bbc three
vision on
ID cards