Friday, 18 November 2011

Balancing Boundaries (updated)

Reading through the Gazette I came across a letter by Cllrs Fenner and Poole relating to the Boundary Commission’s review of Parliamentary seats. I could have sworn I’d heard it before and yep, I had. It was published on Thanet Press Release’s website on the 6th November. Todays letter is the same statement, therefore Im assuming that their view has not changed and they are sticking to what they said before. Their proposal is:

the inclusion of the Margate Wards of Westbrook and Garlinge and keeping Salmestone in the proposed new constituency of Margate & Ramsgate

OK. Lets look at the proposed boundaries for Herne Bay and Margate & Ramsgate. What doesn’t ring true with the quote? Yep, Salmestone is ALREADY part of the proposed Margate & Ramsgate seat.

The letter makes mention of the “whole Margate community” and that it "must" be included in the Margate/Ramsgate seat. Given the old Margate boundaries included Westgate as well this proposal falls because the seat would be too large to meet the Boundary Commission's criteria, even if Sandwich was moved to the Herne Bay seat. Labour makes criticisms that Margate "must not be split" and yet Labour knows that they have to accept the splitting of Margate. One Labour Councillor in Margate has publicly accepted this as being the case.

Of course if Labour is serious about the “whole Margate community” being part of Margate/Ramsgate, would they please suggest which Ramsgate ward they would drop, so that the residents can make their own feelings known.

The reason why they made this press release? They were attacking Laura Sandys for making public her view that she would prefer to keep Little Stour and Ashstone in the Margate/Ramsgate seat at maybe the expense of Salmestone. Odd, since this is a public consultation. Just because she has said this does not mean the proposed seats are automatically changed. It’s based on ALL the information that gets sent to the Review not just the resident MP’s. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, whether the Labour leadership agrees with it or not.  

The Maths (update 18:20):

The proposed Herne Bay seat contains 78,999 voters compared to Margate/Ramsgate with 74,173. According to last years District elections the key wards have the following electorates:

Westbrook          3059
Garlinge              3453
Sandwich            5600
Westgate On Sea 5079

If Westbrook and Garlinge are exchanged for Sandwich, Herne Bay will have 78,087 voters and Margate/Ramsgate will have 75,085 voters. If Westgate moves from Herne Bay to Margate/Ramsgate, Herne Bay will have 73,008 voters compared to Margate/Ramsgate's 80,164.

Looking at the "rules", a constituency needs to have between 72,810 and 80,473 voters (5% either side of 76,641-the electoral quota). While the final figures fit with this, there are two reasons why I wouldn't advocate the Westgate switch. Firstly each constituency needs to have similar numbers of electors and with such a large difference in voters it defeats the purpose of the review. Secondly Cllr Will Scobie posted analysis on the apparent loss of 1,400 voters from Margate Central and Cliftonville West wards in the last four years therefore there should be a reluctance to push towards the upper limit. With this being the case its best that Westgate stay with Herne Bay seat, even if that means splitting Margate.

I hope the above might shed some light onto the maths involved. While I would be delighted to fit Westgate in the proposed Margate/Ramsgate seat, the above doesn't justify the move.

1 comment:

Ken Gregory said...

As a ward councillor for Garlinge, I would say that, when it comes to electing MP's it bears little relation to what constituency one lives in.. When it comes to District Elections, of course it matters.
people vote, or not, for Roger Gale for one of two reasons...either they think he is a good MP, or they vote for the conservative party. They also have the choice to vote for someone else, or another party.
the name of the constituency does not come into it! Me I am happy to say I will remain in the same place!