The executives of the Battersea and Tooting Liberal Democrats and the Putney Liberal Democrats have agreed to merge their parties into a single local party covering the borough of Wandsworth. This will be proposed to members of a joint Annual General Meeting on 24 November 2016, to take effect on 1 January 2017.
The executives have decided to take this step for two main reasons. Firstly it is administratively more efficient. Fewer volunteers will be needed to cover administrative functions, such as Treasurer or Data Officer, which have important legal obligations. That should leave more scope for political campaigning and membership development. Most Liberal Democrat local parties in London have now moved to forming borough-wide local parties. These include the neighbouring boroughs of Richmond and Merton.
The second reason is that changes to the way parliamentary constituency boundaries are drawn make constituency-based local parties impractical. The new constituencies often cross borough boundaries, and they will also be subject to frequent changes. The current proposals mean that the Putney and Tooting constituencies will take on wards from Merton, and Battersea will take on a ward from Lambeth. Borough boundaries, on the other hand, remain fixed. Using the borough boundaries ensure continuity and prevents clashes of definition with neighbouring local parties.
The proposed new local party, Wandsworth Liberal Democrats, will be supervised by a single executive committee. Local campaigning will be organised by less formal groups of activists, accountable to the Executive. There will be a ring-fenced Putney Devlopment Fund to manage the remaining proceeds of the sale of the Putney headquarters in 2013. There will also be a local sub committee to manage campaigning and membership development in Putney. Existing campaign groups in Battersea and Tooting will continue, but reporting to the new Executive.
The merger resolutions to be put to the current local parties will have the effect of winding them up and approving the new merged party. Follow the links for Battersea and Tooting and Putney (note: the Putney wording requires to be finalised).
The proposed constitution for Wandsworth Liberal Democrats is here.