Kent – theoretical entitlement 16.12 seats
East Sussex – 7.69 seats
Combined – 23.81; allocation 24 seats, average 76,030
Click to see the Commission’s plan.
The first thing to say about this area is that this is not a natural pairing, but it might survive for a Review or two because of the relative population growth of the two counties.
1. Brighton: the Commission have gone for a Brighton & Hove Inner and Brighton & Hove Outer arrangement – I prefer a Hove seat and a Brighton seat.
2. The Weald, Hailsham and Bexhill: Crowborough-Cranbrook makes quite a good cross-border seat but it throws out the pattern all around. In the Commission’s plan, Uckfield, Heathfield and Crowborough are all in different seats, and the Hailsham-Polegate area is split between seats.
Although it’s an Odd Couple, the eastern side of the High Weald can be put together with Bexhill to form a seat that respects the boundary of Rother district and allows Ashford district to be separated into two sensible sections, one based on Tenterden.
This also allows Uckfield, Heathfield and Crowborough to be in a single seat, as well as the creation of a seat based on Seaham and Hailsham.
3. Folkestone: Shepway district has an electorate of 80,060, so the constituency can be exactly the same.
4. Thanet/Canterbury: I’ve got nothing against Sandwich being in the Thanet seat, but it isn’t necessary. If you move the boundary between Margate and Westgate to the correct place, you can also create a coastal-towns constituency which will allow the Whitstable and Canterbury areas not to be split between seats.
5. Medway: Including Snodland in the Rochester seat (i.e. the border with the Chatham seat follows the river) allows a much better division of the Medway wards between seats, even without splitting any of them.
6. North West: I’ve included Swanley in the Dartford seat and New Barn in the Gravesham seat.
7. West: Sevenoaks district has an electorate close to the quota so I don’t see the point of ignoring the boundary. The question then remains of what to do with the Low Weald. The Commission tacks it on to Tonbridge, which is a valid option, but I don’t see why it can’t form a seat on its own. This does of course have the consequence that Tonbridge and Tunbridge Wells would be reunited in a single constituency for the first time since 1970…
- Hove 78,212
Brighton Central 76,013
Hailsham & Newhaven 74,573
West Weald 73,884
Hastings & Rye 76,422
Bexhill & East Weald 80,009
Folkestone & Hythe 80,060
East Thanet 75,112
North Kent Coast 74,210
Canterbury & Faversham 74,433
Sittingbourne & Sheppey 74,796
Chatham & Aylesford 73,808
Mid Kent 73,862
Comparison with the Commission’s proposals:
Brighton, Medway and East Kent in 1944.
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