Epsom and Ewell should become part of London and merge with another borough like Sutton, according to one of the market town's councillors.

Last month, Barney Stringer, a director of London planning consultancy Quod, raised the question of whether London is too small.

His query, which was based on the release of data from the 2011 Census, showing people’s journeys to work, considered whether the map of London could be re-drawn "to reflect the reality of its huge economic pull on the wider south east".

Recognition of the market town’s proximity to London, a mere 18 miles to the centre of the capital, and its position as London’s gateway to Surrey, can already be seen in its inclusion in the proposed Crossrail 2 project.

Mr Stringer’s blog article, outlining his premise, said: "In many cases entire districts - Epping Forest, Spelthorne, Epsom and Ewell, and Three Rivers - provide fewer jobs for their residents than London does.

"Is it time re-draw London’s boundaries once again, to embrace these areas that already function as part of the city?

"Or are there other ways to integrate London’s hinterland, perhaps by giving the Mayor of London greater powers over transport and housing beyond London’s boundaries?"

Epsom and Ewell was considered for inclusion within Greater London in the early 1960s, but it is understood that the idea was not welcomed and the proposition did not come to anything as the original plans, for what became the Greater London Council, in 1965, were scaled back considerably and excluded the borough.

Asked what it thought about Mr Stringer’s suggestion, an Epsom Council spokesman said: "The argument would appear to be that because so many people commute to London - 40 per cent of workers in the borough commute to London - the borough should become part of London.

"This ignores that 60 per cent of workers don’t commute to London or the boundary of London has never had anything to do with commuting."

Sutton Guardian:

The blue areas on the above map indicate areas in which more people work in London than their home districts.  Picture: Barney Stringer / OS / ONS Census 2011

But Epsom Residents’ Association councillor Mike Teasdale said he has always felt the borough should be in London "one way or another" - even if this means Epsom and Ewell merging with the London boroughs of Sutton or Kingston.

He said: "One of the problems is Epsom’s a small borough so the council is pushed in terms of income and would benefit quite considerably financially being part of London.

"There would be transport benefits for individuals and we would get more access to grants and funding.

"But I don’t think Epsom and Ewell could become a London borough on its own as it’s too small so it would have to merge with either Sutton or Kingston.  

"If the council really thought about it now, we may well change our minds.  It’s down to individual councillors." 

Epsom Labour councillor, and prospective parliamentary candidate, Sheila Carlson disagreed. 

She said Epsom would not "sit well" in London and that any decision on whether to change the boundary "should not be taken by a few elected councillors".

"It’s always been a bit strange that places like Croydon, Mitcham, Kingston have Surrey postal codes but they’re not in Surrey as far as local government is concerned," said Coun Carlson.

"I don’t think Epsom and Ewell sits very well in London. 

"It’s different - it has a different feel and in the past the council has liked the distance. 

"For example, when we were in the Metropolitan police district we didn’t actually get quite enough police backing because we were considered to be a fairly quiet area. 

"As soon as we moved into the Surrey district we got a lot more help and we did need that additional policing."

Coun Carlson said moving Epsom into London could be to the detriment of its hospital as the arguments made for its survival have revolved around it being located in Surrey, not London. 

But she acknowledged that it is "crazy" that Epsom does not have the Oyster Card and that pensioners in the borough are only entitled to free bus passes, whereas in London free travel on the Underground and trains is also available for them.

She added: "I think people on the whole quite like being in Surrey. 

"They like the idea of Epsom and Ewell being a small market town and a move into London may well change that perception."

Epsom Liberal Democrat councillor Julie Morris said she would be against the change as she believes it would compromise the borough’s green space.

"Epsom and Ewell has a very strong identity in terms of acting as a buffer to the greater London sprawl. 

"Does that greater London sprawl need to sprawl out more?  I would suggest it doesn’t.

"Housing and employment shouldn’t just be focused on London, we need to look at the country as a whole.  The south east is already quite prosperous. 

"It’s the proximity of the greenbelt in the borough that has to be sacrosanct. 

"The moment it gets subsumed into London I could not see many benefits for the preservation of the greenbelt.

She said getting Epsom into Zone 6 is more of an "amendment to an anomaly" and that residents are keen to preserve the borough’s character.

"There will be people who can’t see further than the Zone 6 argument, but if Epsom was already in Zone 6 a huge majority would be in favour of keeping its identity in Surrey," added Coun Morris. 

Epsom Conservative councillor Darren Dale said he is often asked the question as his ward, Stoneleigh, borders Sutton. 

But he is against Epsom becoming part of London as it would involve "giving more and getting less" and may lead to Epsom being overlooked in favour of other London boroughs with a greater social need.

He said: "Epsom and Ewell has always been known as a market town. 

"It would be difficult to keep that alive if we became part of London. 

"It would then just be another London borough".

For Robert Leach, UKIP’s candidate for next year’s General Election and an ex-Residents’ Association councillor in Epsom for 12 years, the issue is of "sentiment".

"Epsom looks more towards Surrey.  It’s a rural area, it has lots of green space. 

"It’s very different from the London boroughs such as Croydon.

"I think it’s an identity thing really.  We see ourselves as suburban valuing lots of green space."

To read Mr Stringer's article click here.

What do you think? Leave a comment below or contact Hardeep Matharu with your views by calling 020 8772 6346 or email hmatharu@london.newsquest.co.uk.