Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Boundary reform - For Good or bad.

Survivor; Tracey Crouch MP
After months of hard work the Boundary commission has released its findings to the public for a three week consultation period before going before Parliament. However the preliminary results have brought mixed reactions.

In Medway there is good news for the hard working MP for Chatham and Aylesford Tracey Crouch (con). The Commission is not axing her constituency thus leaving her jobless in 2015 - infact they are adding to it for the next election. There were rumours back in August that the constituency she represents would be broken up and absorbed by surrounding constituencies including moving Chatham town into Rochester. The commission was also talking about cutting Rainham away and adding it to Lenham near Maidstone which would have cut a chunk out of the Medway community and bond it with an area that is not homogeneous with each other.

Currently the new Rochester (previously Rochester and Strood) is gaining Rochester East, Chatham Central (including the railway station) and keep the Hoo peninsula (which was rumoured to be going to Gravesend and Gravesham.)

Chatham and Aylesford is set to gain the East Malling and West Malling & Leybourne as well as Hempstead & Wigmore (from Gillingham and Rainham) and Rochester South and Horsted (from Rochester and Strood.) The latter makes sense as Horsted is just up from the Medway Valley and on the main road to Chatham.

Gillingham and Rainham, Rehman Chisthi's (and my own) constituency has absorbed Luton and Wayfield from Chatham and Aylesford. This is currently a Labour ward and so will slim his majority. It is a bit of an oddity for a part of Chatham to be taken up but no great culture shock of two communities.

As many of you know, I'm useless with figures but in his excellent article ( Councillor Tristan Osborne states that based on previous figures a snap election would see Tracey Crouch increasing her majority by 10 - 12,000. Rehman Chisthi of Gillingham would see his cut to 7500- 9000 and Mark Reckless of Rochester would see his majority fall to 8- 10,000.

All three are marginal seats any way and saw a massive swing to blue in the last election and I'm sure they will be targets for Labour at the next election and all three MPs will have to work hard to maintain their posts anyway. However I'm sure this will be well received news for Miss Crouch who has made a real impact since being elected in May and continues to impress. It would have been a real shame for her to lose her seat on a technicality, I hope that she continues to serve Chatham and Aylesford (and the new wards post 2015) in the same way.

The Medway Libdems played a small role in this by putting forward revisions to the county party and commission as to cutting away communities and revising figures, including moving Horsted and Rochester South in an attempt to keep Rainham attached to Medway. Its probably not much, or may not have even helped at all but every little helps.

Nationally however the future looks grim for the party in any change. According to the Guardian the Conservatives look set to lose 6 seats, Labour 14, Lib Dems 10 and the Greens 1. We as a party cannot afford to lose 10 seats. One of our big loses might be Dr Vince Cable. His Twickenham seat will be dissected to create a Richmond and Twickenham seat that spans the Thames and puts him in direct conflict with Zac Goldsmith Mp for Richmond park and North Kingston.

In order to get the right size of constituency, no account has been taken not just of borough boundaries, but any sense of identity that will cause a lot of concern.

A similar case has broken out in the West Country where a new Bideford and Bude constituency now has Bude (in Devon) in a mostly Cornwall Constituency! The fiercely independent Cornish men don't want to be associated with the Devonians and claim that they are two different communities and have different needs and wants and one MP could not represent them both.

Other Big Guns who face losing seats include George Osborne, Ken Clarke, Ed Balls, Chris Huhne and even our popular president Tim Farron!

The big dilemma facing us Libdems is that fewer MPs and equalling out the number of constituents to an average number is indeed a good thing. It brings more fairness so is a good plus.
The bad news is that the lines have been drawn along ward lines, which can be misleading. For example in Gillinham my ward boundary goes right down the centre of the road I live on. I'm in Gillingham south but if I go to Tesco or the Chinese takeaway I'm in Watling. This boundary could be used to cut a Constituency boundary and my neighbour could be represented by someone else. It is reminiscent of the Allied powers carving up the Middle East post World War I, arbitrary lines on maps that separate communities and cause possible complications. Something that could affect democracy and Individual rights.

I would strongly advise people to look at their Boundary review, yeah it sounds boring but its your country and you get a say in how it is run. This is the most important review of how your MPs represent you in a long time so make the most of it. Take ten minutes to look at the map and think if it will affect you, then either contact the Commission ( or your MP. As of today (14th September) you have 83 days to lodge your comments before they go away and reach a compromise.

1 comment:

  1. no you don't have '83 days before it goes before Parliament.' You have 83 days (now 81) before the consultation closes. After that they will put out a revised set of proposals, and consult some more. Only after that will they set out their final proposals which will then be voted on in parliament.