MP brands new parliamentary constituency plans for Thanet as ‘bizarre’

Proposed boundary changes

The Boundary Commission for England has published new revised proposals for constituencies across the country and opens a final month-long consultation, giving the public a last opportunity to send in their views.

Changes for Thanet would mean an East Thanet constituency taking in Ramsgate, Broadstairs and most of Margate but Westbrook, Birchington, Garlinge, Thanet villages wards and Westgate would come under a Herne Bay and Sandwich County Constituency.

Currently the constituencies are South Thanet- which includes Ramsgate, Broadstairs, Cliftonville, Sandwich and villages such as Preston – with MP Craig Mackinlay and North Thanet – including Margate, Manston, Minster, Westgate, Birchington and Herne Bay -with MP Sir Roger Gale.

The latest proposals for Thanet

East Thanet wards

1 Beacon Road

2 Bradstowe

3 Central Harbour

4 Cliffsend and Pegwell 5 Cliftonville East

6 Cliftonville West

7 Dane Valley

8 Eastcliff

9 Kingsgate

10 Margate Central 11 Nethercourt

12 Newington

13 Northwood

14 Salmestone

15 Sir Moses Montefiore 16 St. Peters

17 Viking

Herne Bay and Sandwich wards

1 Beltinge

2 Birchington North

3 Birchington South

4 Garlinge

5 Greenhill

6 Herne & Broomfield

7 Heron

8 Little Stour & Ashstone

9 Reculver

10 Sandwich

11 Sturry

12 Thanet Villages

13 West Bay

14 Westbrook

15 Westgate-on-Sea

Craig Mackinlay

MP Craig Mackinlay has branded to proposal as “bizarre” saying it will mean the  proposed new Sandwich/Herne Bay constituency will have areas across three local authorities.

Mr Mackinlay said: “”The Boundary Commission ongoing review into the Parliamentary seats has created a bizarre outcome in East Kent which under any analysis breaks their own code and guidance to which they are meant to work when little change is needed.

“Both existing seats were the right size in terms of elector numbers but due to population growth in Canterbury, Sturry was proposed to be moved into Thanet. In so accommodating just a few thousand new electors, the Boundary Commission have recommended wholesale change to the Thanet seats, causing massive displacement of constituents.

“This is in itself unfortunate as the North and South Thanet seats have been broadly unchanged since 1983. The first iteration of this proposal in 2021 was contested with a more sensible plan advanced by the national Conservative Party and both Thanet MPs.

“Additionally, the proposed new Sandwich/Herne Bay constituency will have to deal with three local authorities, a virtually unheard-of situation, whereas the current configuration, long established, had each seat dealing with just two local authorities each.

“Additionally, ‘community links’, which are fundamental to this exercise, are abstract at best between Sandwich and Herne Bay. The resulting seat has a crescent around the new East Thanet seat and has coastlines in both north and east Kent, again, unique across the country.

“The review is still open and I hope that good sense can prevail to keep stability when little change is required.”

The Conservative Party suggestion is for the transfer of just one ward from North to South Thanet – Dane Valley – and the addition of Sturry to North Thanet with no name changes for the constituencies.

However, Ramsgate County Councillor Karen Constantine (Labour) said she thinks the proposal could be a good idea.

She said: “It makes good sense to put together the three main towns of Margate, Broadstairs, and Ramsgate to form East Kent, especially as they share so much in common like the coastline and tourism offer. We have vibrant communities who are very engaged with the arts and music and communities of people that share the heritage and future of Thanet.

“What Thanet East really needs is responsive politicians who will fight for resources so that from 0 – 90+ residents needs and aspirations can be met. We need to fight to obtain our fair share of Kent County Council’s budget, and to ensure we have adequate infrastructure, schools and colleges, access to health facilities and good secure jobs. We need a powerful voice in Parliament.

“Thanet East will be an area that is packed with potential, brimming with local talent and ambition. Not only that – our coastline is precious, beautiful and very special to us all. I think this the new boundary is a good step forward. It makes sense.”

Public consultation

The Commission has taken into consideration some 45,000 comments sent in by the public during the previous two stages of public consultation and has changed nearly half of its initial proposals based on this feedback.

A third and final consultation on the new map of revised constituency proposals is open now until 5 December. The public are invited to view and comment on the new map at bcereviews.org.uk.

The Commission is undertaking an independent review of all constituencies in England as requested by Parliament. The number of electors within each constituency currently varies widely due to population changes since the last boundary review.

The 2023 Boundary Review will rebalance the number of electors each MP represents, resulting in significant change to the existing constituency map. As part of the review, the number of constituencies in England will increase from 533 to 543.

After this final consultation has closed on 5 December, the Commission will analyse the responses and form its final recommendations. These will be submitted to Parliament by 1 July 2023.