Hammersmith & Fulham

Hammersmith and Fulham is a Greater London borough, on the western side of London itself and part of Inner London. Inner London is a term given to a group of London boroughs – one of which is, as mentioned, Hammersmith and Fulham – that form the interior of Greater London and are surrounded by Outer London. Interestingly, Inner London is the richest inner city on the planet, with  a gross domestic product (GDP) of €76,052 in 2005, ahead of similar cities such as Paris (€75,235 per capita).

The borough of Hammersmith and Fulham has an intriguing history. It hosted the 1908 Olympic games, the fifth modern Olympic games. The Games will return to London in 2012 for a third time – the second event hosted by London was in 1948 – making London the city with the most-held Olympic Games in history.

Continuing the sporting theme, the borough is home to three of the top 44 football teams in England and Wales. Premiership clubs Chelsea and Fulham reside in Hammersmith and Fulham at their home grounds Stamford Bridge and Craven Cottage respectively. Queens Park Rangers play at the second level, the Championship, with their home ground Loftus Road also within the borough.

Hammersmith and Fulham has, by inner city London standards, a fairly diverse population. The 2001 census showed a population of 165,242, of which 58% are White British. A further 20% are white non-British, predominantly Irish and Polish, with 5% black population and 5% Caribbean Other ethnics groups such as Asians make up the remaining 11%.

The ruling council, Hammersmith and Fulham Council, is administered by 46 different councillors. Currently, the Conservative party hold a majority of 33 seats, with Labour holding the remaining 13. The next local elections will take place in 2010.

Hammersmith and Fulham is also the name of a constituency of the England and Wales government. The constituency covers the town centres of both Fulham and Hammersmith, as well as smaller outlying areas such as Brook Green, West Kensington and Sands End. It was created in 1997, fusing smaller constituencies in the surrounding area.

At the 1997 election for which it was created, Labour MP Iain Coleman was elected with 25,262 votes – a 46.8% share. This was something of a shock considering the socio-economic status of the constituency and borough – wealthy people are more likely to vote Conservative – but Coleman was re-elected in 2001.

Although Coleman only lost 2% of the vote in 2001 from his original result in 1997, in 2005 the constituency changed hands – quite literally – as Conservative candidate Greg Hands was elected. Hands gained 22,407 votes to Labour’s 17,378, a vote share of 45%. The seat will, however, be a key battleground in the next election – expected in 2009 or 2010 as Labour will fight to regain control as the Conservatives fight to keep it.

This, however, is a matter for discussion. There are plans at present to implement a new constituency boundary. A new constituency of Chelsea and Fulham would be created, as well as a second one just for Hammersmith. These changes are likely, though not certain, to be implemented in time for the next UK General Election.