Monday, 15 August 2011

Boundary Changes and its affect on Medway.

Rehman Chishti, Tracey Crouch, Mark Reckless MPs for Medway
One of the many progressive policies we as a party have brought in is to trim Parliament to a more efficient 600 MPs representing 72,000 to 77,000 voters.

At the moment there are people working diligently pouring over maps and drawing lines and marking up new or re sized constituencies. In Kent we are set to lose one MP.

But... This arbitrary cut and slice may be a touch too arbitrary.

For example one proposal for Medway was to cut the Hoo peninsula and Isle of Grain away and put them into Gravesend and Gravesham, combine Rochester and Chatham town with Cuxton and Halling passing to Maidstone. Gillingham would swallow up the river ward and Brompton but Rainham would be joined with Lenham ward in Maidstone!!!

With our current MP's (pictured above) it would look like Chatham and Aylesford MP Tracey Crouch would lose her seat to a more Labour leaning Chatham but then again the loss of Conservative rural areas may be replaced with the Cathedral city of Rochester's conservative voters. OR she could lose out altogether as Mark Reckless is already holding the seat of Rochester for the Conservatives and thus she may face redundancy.

As for Gillingham, Rehman Chishti will lose support from Conservative stronghold Rainham but instead gain those down in Brompton but it would negatively affect his majority.
There is also the consideration that the heart of Gillingham remains Liberal Democrat/ Independent group consisting of ex- Liberal Democrats.

This could severely eat into his majority and could tip the scales in favour of Labour or he could get in again on the split left vote.

Another suggestion could be, if there is a swing against the Conservatives and Austerity cuts that could lead to Vince Maple or Tristan Osborne as MP for Chatham and Rochester and Me (yeah right!!!) or an esteemed Libdem colleague, or Andy Stamp or even the very talented Jacqui Berry for the TUSC party in Gillingham.

In short, I doubt it!

A plan has been put forward by the Medway Liberal Democrats- which I am not allowed to discuss unfortunately. However we I can say that it readdresses the harmony of Medway and keeps Rainham and Gillingham together. I can tell you that Kent Lib Dems have accepted the proposal. It would be a ridiculous decision to separate a chunk of the community from Medway especially when Rainham councillors would still sit on Medway council.

On the 8th of August the Medway KM ran a story on the commission and their academic sources suggested that again Hoo will go to Gravesend, Cuxton, Halling and Aylesford will go to a new constituency MidKent and Gillingham and Rainham swallow up the river wards. According to their projections Labour will take Rochester and the Conservatives will hold Gillingham.

Stuart Wilks-Heeg, director of the Boundary commission said that they wouldn't be deliberately partisan and that the lines would be drawn in as balanced a way as possible.

Also; "As far as we know this is the most detailed attempt to map out how it could look."
(Of course this is up for review every five years.)

Despite all the conjecture and suggestions, yes even my ill informed predictions, it will not be visiting until November to get residents views on the matter. Hopefully they will size up the communities and see that lines on a map do affect people and their representation. Hopefully they will also listen to the local parties suggestions, not in a partisan way - which is difficult- but to their constructive arguments and criticism.

As for Tracey Crouch...

 "I will be disappointed if Chatham and Aylesford is the seat that is abolished.

"We won't know the outcome of the Commission's review until early September, but we do know one seat in Kent will go."

I know I'm on on dodgy ground by saying this but... I like Tracey as an MP, she was on the streets of the Chatham the day after the riots and she was there all day. She gets involved in local issues. More importantly as a Lib dem I admire the fact that she voted against Tuition fees, something that half our party cannot say, she also stood up to the Home Secretary to combat the Government closure of Social Networking at a time of civil disorder whilst Nick had looked on earlier as David Cameron had spoken the same words. I know that elections see a lot of good MPs lose their seats due to the knee jerk reactions of the electorate who don't think of good constituent MPs but who will be PM, but I can honestly say that it will be a massive shame for her to go out like that.

Back to the point though. The commission will of course make its suggestions to parliament and it will be debated. I agree that the constituencies do need to be made uniform and that parliament's constituent parts need to be examined for the first time in a long time. However I hope that they do talk to the residents and listen to the concerns and thoughts on the shift. I really hope that Rainham isn't separated from Medway, it is a part of these towns and an MP from Maidstone may not represent their needs as much as someone who represents that town and Gillingham solely.

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