If you’ve seen the latest plans for the Government’s Boundary Review, you’ll have noticed a slight peculiarity on the Whitstable map.
While most of the town teams up with Herne Bay to form a new North Kent Coast seat, Seasalter is left behind, or more accurately stays where it is, remaining part of the Canterbury constituency, which pairs up with Faversham.
It’s at this point that a local politician is supposed to jump up, livid with rage and promise to campaign to their last breath to stop this terrible injustice. Naturally placards soon follow, declarations of solidarity, and all at an unnaturally high volume.
I’m not going to do that.
On the face of it this isn’t a perfect plan, but these things rarely are. It’s hard enough moving the furniture around in your living room let alone creating 600 seats of equal population.
That’s what this is about. The review is a long-overdue attempt to recalibrate the number of constituents per parliamentary seat, which right now lacks balance.
For instance, the Isle of Wight seat has 110,697 constituents, while Na h-Eileanan an ler in the Outer Hebrides has 21,769 (for the record Canterbury currently has 78,137).
The Review is politically charged for obvious reasons – some MPs will lose their seats, and the political parties will have their eye on their supporters in redrawn constituencies. But there’s a democratic case to redistribute population to even out those anomalies.
It’s also worth remembering that this is for parliamentary seats, not council districts. Seasalter will still be part of Canterbury Council, just as it will remain part of Whitstable, not Faversham. The digging and lifting equipment required to meet such a challenge do not yet exist.
But there is that anomaly, of Seasalter being in a different constituency to the rest of the Town.
There will be cases of Seasalter residents contacting their MP about an issue relating to Whitstable, which is represented by an entirely different MP. But then this happens a great deal already, and MPs typically work together on issues that affect both their constituency and the neighbouring one.
But you can have your say on this or any other aspect of the Review on the https://www.bce2018.org.uk/ website. Whether you think this is ridiculous, or whether you think otherwise.
This is not a perfect plan, but I’m not sure it’s a disastrous one either. But regardless of your view, be sure to have your say.
You can also let me know your thoughts by emailing, or tweeting me @CllrBartley.