Tuesday, 13 September 2011

KNOW YOUR BOUNDARIES

The Boundary Commission released proposals today which have suggested changes to Thanet's electoral constituency map. According to the PDF on the South East outlining initial proposals which are subject to public consultation, it says:

"53.  The changes we have suggested elsewhere in Kent have led us to propose a new Margate and Ramsgate constituency that contains the resort towns of Margate, Broadstairs, and Ramsgate. Our proposed constituency contains the majority of the existing South Thanet constituency.

54.  As a consequence, on the North Kent coast the remainder of the wards in the existing North Thanet constituency, encompassing the towns of Herne Bay and Westgate-on-Sea, are included in our proposed Herne Bay constituency. This constituency also includes five wards from the existing Canterbury constituency and the ward of Little Stour and Ashstone of the District of Dover from the existing South Thanet constituency."

So, in other words, Thanet's three main resort towns (Margate, Broadstairs and Ramsgate) will have a single parliamentary representative. As far as I understand it, if Roger Gale decides to stand again for re-election in 2015, he will be campaigning to become MP for the newly-renamed Herne Bay constituency, not North Thanet, as it currently stands. Concurrently, what is now South Thanet constituency will have had its boundaries redrawn as Margate and Ramsgate constituency, so if Laura Sandys retains her seat, she will then become MP for Thanet's main three towns.

On the one hand, I like the idea of Margate, Broadstairs and Ramsgate sharing the same constituency and being represented by one MP  in particular, the idea of bringing Margate Central and Dane Valley under the same electoral umbrella as Cliftonville East and West makes sense to me. This has the desired effect of making the Isle of Thanet itself more unified, so the notion of having one MP represent the whole Isle is an interesting prospect.

However, I do wonder how those living in Thanet's villages or elsewhere in the district (such as Acol, St Nicholas-at-Wade, Sarre, etc.) will feel about these proposed boundary changes. Will they feel excluded, considering how much local authority decision-making is made centrally in Margate, I wonder? Or will that merely make the Herne Bay MP (whoever that may be) more determined to involve them in the process? On a national level, I'm also alarmed by The Guardian's claim that if the 2010 general election had been held under the new boundaries, Labour would've won 14 fewer seats, the Lib Dems 10 fewer, while the Conservatives would've lost just 6. Seems rather convenient, don't you think?

Speaking locally, however, I'm of the view that making one single MP fully accountable to the main fulcrum points of the Isle (Margate, Broadstairs and Ramsgate) could potentially be a step in the right direction. With a good MP running the show, it might even help Thanet better establish itself as a more self-sustaining and urbanised locale to rival other constituencies such as Medway, irrespective of which way people vote. That, in my view, may very well promise to be better for local democracy. What do you think? Feel free to disagree. These are only proposals, after all. How happy are you with the Boundary Commission's suggestions?

Don't forget to have your say on the Boundary Commision for England's website.

3 comments:

  1. Surely Roger Gale will be well past it in 2015 aged 72?

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  2. Stranger things have happened, Tony. The Conservative MP for Louth and Horncastle, Peter Tapsell, is 81-years-old!

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  3. Some people are saying that you're a bit past it Tony!

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