UK

London elections 2022: Spotlight on Enfield

O

n May 5, voters across the UK will head to the polls to decide who will run their local authority.

Labour strengthened its hold on the borough of Enfield in 2018, increasing its majority and vote share. The Conservatives will be hoping to avoid a similar result this time round as they look to gain more seats on the council.

Key Issues

While Labour will be hoping to capitalise on voter unease over the Government’s handling of the partygate scandal and the cost of living crisis, the party will have to contend with a fracturing of support in Enfield.

Since 2018, Labour’s majority on the council has been slashed from 29 to 13 following a series of resignations and defections. In total, seven Labour councillors have crossed the floor since the last election, with a new independent group of councillors called Community First being established.

One Labour resignation in the Chase ward in December 2020 resulted in the Conservatives taking the seat in the subsequent by-election the following year. Two other by-elections in 2021 saw Labour retain its seats albeit with reduced majorities.

Like in other boroughs, the Conservatives in Enfield will be hoping to capitalise on the unpopularity of low traffic neighbourhoods which the council has strongly defended.

Another issue likely to be high on the agenda of most voters is housing, with around 11,000 Enfield residents living in temporary accommodation as of October 2021.

In the Edmonton area of the borough, there has been strong opposition to plans to rebuild and expand a waste incinerator which locals fear will worsen air quality.

Details

London’s northernmost borough, Enfield as it is today was envisioned in the 1963 Local Government Act, replacing the municipal boroughs of Enfield, Southgate and Edmonton.

Since the first borough council election in 1964, Enfield London Borough Council has been under the control of both Labour and the Conservatives.

While the Conservatives controlled the council for almost three decades between 1968 and 1994, Labour has enjoyed a majority since 2010.

At the last election in 2018, Labour strengthened its hold on Enfield council by gaining five seats from the Conservatives. Up until this point, Labour had never won three successive council terms in the borough.

Overall, Labour won 46 seats while the Conservatives won 17. No other party has won a seat on Enfield council since 2006. Turnout in 2018 was 38.2 per cent, the highest since the turn of the millennium with the exception of 2010 when local elections coincided with the General Election.

Ahead of this year’s election, Enfield was subject to a Local Government Boundary Commission review which will see the borough divided into 25 wards, up from 21, while the number of seats on the council will remain at 63.

Despite a strong showing in the 2018 election, Labour has seen its majority slashed from 29 down to 13 following a series of resignations and defections.

In the summer of 2020, Labour councillors Derek Levy and Dinah Barry left the party and formed a new, independent group on the council called Community First. They were shortly joined by other ex-Labour councillors Daniel Anderson and Dino Lemonides. All four had been involved in a dispute with the party leadership in Enfield. A fifth defection from Labour to Community First occurred in March 2021 when Anne Brown crossed the floor.

Long-serving Labour councillor Chris Bond died in July 2020 having served on Enfield council for 34 years. A by-election could not take place until the following year due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

In total, three by-elections took place in May 2021 following the resignations of Labour councillors Vicky Pite and Bernadette Lappage. While Labour would retain two of the seats, the third was lost to Conservative candidate Andrew Thorpe.

Labour would suffer two more defections that same month when councillor Charith Gunawardena defected to the Green Party and Ayfer Orhan joined Community First.

In February of this year, Enfield council agreed to freeze council tax for 2022/23, while most other councils raised it.

Demographics

Enfield has a population of around 338,201 according to 2019 estimates, up from 312,466 in 2011. The borough had seen a population boom in the preceding decade, with a population of just 273,563 in 2001.

According to the results of the 2011 Census – the most recent complete data – around 61 per cent of Enfield’s population is White, comprising of 40.5 per cent White British, 2.2 per cent White Irish and 18.2 per cent from other White backgrounds such as Eastern European.

Around 17.1 per cent of Enfield’s population is from Black or Black British backgrounds while 11.1 per cent is from Asian or Asian British backgrounds.

The borough has a higher proportion of younger people aged 20 or under than both London and the UK.

Overall, 61.3 per cent of Enfield’s population is of working age between 18 and 64. Under-18s comprise 25.3 per cent of the borough’s population while over 65s represent 13.4 per cent.

Around 27 per cent of Enfield’s population lives in poverty, with a child poverty rate of 37 per cent. Unemployment in the borough stands at 5.8 per cent.

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