One of the problems with creating a service which deals with elections, is that boundaries change. One year you might be in the Electoral Constituency of Woking, the next year it might be Guildford. Boundaries have to shift in order to keep each MP with roughly the same number of constituents.
The work to determine how these boundaries should be formed is done by The Boundary Commission. They have produced a report to show how the boundaries will be set out at the next General Election. There report - while detailed, thorough and no doubt accurate - is utterly useless. Well, from a "linked data" perspective. It's a 57 MB PDF if you want to see for your self.
I was expecting, along with the rationales, maps and population densities to see something like
Ward: Mount Herman East
Postcodes: GU22 0XX, GU22 0XY, GU22 0XZ ...
Or, indeed, anything which would allow one to easily link the data to other sources. This is what the report contains.
While the map is pretty detailed, it doesn't contain any geo-spatial co-ordinates. It looks like it has just been drawn by hand in ink. There is no way to extract any information out of this map.
The also produce a list of constituencies and wards.
There are three problems with this.
- It's a screen shot. I don't mean that I've taken a screen shot, I mean that they have taken a screenshot of the text and pasted it into the report. There is no way to copy the text out of there.
- Even if it were possible, they don't list the Government standard codes for the wards
- There are no postcodes or other forms of information which tie the ward to a specific place.
So, how can I find this information? I know! I'll write to those nice folk at Parliament
Dear Sir or Madam,
I notice that you provide a website which allows Constituency lookup from a postcode (http://findyourmp.parliament.uk/)
Do you have the data for the *new* Constituencies proposed by the Boundary Commission?
The Boundary Commission has maps of the new areas (http://www.statistics.gov.uk/pbc/default.asp) but these don't have postcodes on them.
I'm happy to make an FoI request if that is your preferred way of releasing the information.
If you do not have the information - would you be able to tell me who does?
A few days later I got back this.
Thank you for your enquiry asking if we have the post codes for the new Constituencies proposed by the Boundary Commission.
I am afraid, the House of Commons Information Office is unable to give you a list of the post codes for the proposed "new" constituencies Boundaries .The House purchases a list of postcodes for each Parliamentary constituencies from the Office of National Statistics and the new list will not be purchased until nearer the time of the General Election when the changes in Parliamentary constituencies take effect.
You may like to contact the Office of National Statistic to see if you can purchase a list from them of the new constituencies.
Customer Contact Centre
Office for National Statistics
Telephone - +44 (0) 845 601 3034
I hope this is helpful
So, off to the ONS! I took a look through their website, couldn't find what I wanted, so I emailed them.
I'm looking for some definitive data on the electoral constituencies and their comprising wards for the next general election. That is, those incorporating the boundary changes in the Boundary Commission's Fifth periodical report.
Under "Names and codes for Electoral Geography" your document "Westminster Parliamentary Constituencies" only lists the 647 constituencies from the 2005 election. Do you have the data for the upcoming election?
Similarly, in "Names and codes for Administrative Geography" I'm not sure if the document "Wards (Eng) Dec 2008 Names and Codes" contains the latest wards. There also seems to be no schema to link Wards to Constituencies that I can see.
Do you hold such information?
Which sadly got back
Thank you for your recent enquiry
Please be advised that this information is currently not available. This is because current wards are split across the new boundaries and a review of these is about to be carried out which makes them subject to change.
If you have any further questions, please let me know.
So, no luck there.
Is this really so hard? All I want is to know that Postcode X is in Ward Y of Constituency Z. It would appear that this information just isn't held anywhere. The review has been completed by the Boundary Commission but they either don't consider linked data or they don't share it. I just wish they would Set Our Data Free.
Or am I barking up the wrong tree entirely?