Whither Waddon?

By - Monday 6th June, 2016

Waddon lies at the heart of Croydon’s upcoming electoral boundary review, says resident Sue Harling

Squirrel at Waddon Ponds.
Photo by Bob Walker, used under Creative Commons licence.

The electoral ward of Waddon may be marginal but we’re by no means peripheral to the boundary review debate.

Pity the poor person who has to sort out how to re-distribute the voters of Croydon, who have lacked the foresight to distribute themselves evenly across the borough’s electoral wards. Does anyone know if the Hogwarts’ Sorting Hat is available?

The constituency of Waddon has yoyo-ed between Labour and Conservative since the first elections for the new borough of Croydon in 1964, with honours roughly even. Our current representation is reflected in (or responsible for) the (red) colour of Croydon Town Hall. It’s hardly surprising that we are the most marginal ward in the borough when you consider our location. With Sutton on our western boundary, Waddon has a key role to play as the straight edge of the Croydon jigsaw.

Hang on a minute. We’ve never belonged up in Croydon North

But where to put us (to quote the Sorting Hat)? Demographically, we have most in common with our northern neighbours in Broad Green, who are looking for somewhere to absorb 11.4% of their surplus voters. Surely we can help them out? But hang on a minute: we’ve got 9.7% too many voters ourselves and we’ve never been in the same constituency as they are (Croydon North).

In 1997 we were unceremoniously prised away from our eastern neighbours in Fairfield (Croydon Central) and foisted upon our southern neighbours in Purley and Croham (Croydon South). Confused? So were some of the candidates in the most recent general election, judging by the literature that came through our letterbox. Purley has room for 1.6% additional voters, so should we help them out instead by shifting our southern boundary? This might make sense electorally, but I was surprised to learn that the electoral ward which we know as Waddon is already much further south than the geographical area of the same name.

I’m already mourning the loss of Wandle Park, which I’ve discovered isn’t in Waddon after all. At least we’ve still got Duppas Hill recreation ground and Waddon Ponds. Losing Croydon Airport or the Purley Way playing fields would be too much to bear. With a nod to history on both sides of the A23, where else can you find a 1930s diving platform and a de Havilland Heron either side of a major arterial route?

Waddon’s a microcosm of the London Borough of Croydon

Waddon’s 17,077 residents can only really be certain of assets that are in the middle of the ward and have Waddon in the title: that leaves us with the not inconsiderable haul of a leisure centre, a railway station, a ‘hotel’ and a retail park.

Next time that I trudge up Duppas Hill Terrace to cast my vote at Old Town Youth Club, perhaps I’ll know whether that’s ‘the hill where woad grows’ that gave Waddon its name. (Woad is the name of both a plant and the blue dye it produces.) If the tinkering of the last century is anything to go by, that hill could be anywhere.

I’ll be following the boundary review with interest. Whichever way it goes, I hope that Waddon remains a microcosm of the London Borough of Croydon and a place where I can score some fast food and then work it off with a few lengths of the pool without crossing the border. I’m not lazy: I just like making the most of where I live.

Sue Harling

Sue Harling

Sue Harling moved to Croydon from Leicester twenty-three years ago via Bath, Krefeld and other parts of London. She lives with her family in Waddon, where there is plentiful access to her favourite pastimes: tribute bands, cafes, choral singing and quizzes. In her spare time she’s a civil servant.

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