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Big shake-up of Kent's Parliamentary constituencies proposed

It’s all change and no change in the proposed boundary review of Kent parliamentary constituencies in the Electoral Commission’s latest draft proposals published today.

The county currently has 17 constituencies and will retain that number after the re-organisation, but two of them will be cross-border constituencies and include voters from East Sussex.

Tunbridge Wells will be renamed Tunbridge Wells and Crowborough, to include six wards from the East Sussex borough of Wealden.

Ballot box
Ballot box

Geographically the constituency moves considerably westwards into East Sussex and much of the Kent parts that had previously fallen within Tunbridge Wells such as Goudhurst, Hawkhurst, Paddock Wood and Cranbrook now go to a new constituency called Mid Kent and Ticehurst.

The villages of Headcorn, Staplehurst, Marden and Yalding, currently in Maidstone and the Weald, will also join Mid Kent and Ticehurst, along with villages from Ashford such as Biddenden, Rolvenden and Tenterden, and also Ticehurst from East Sussex.

Elsewhere there are major changes to the way some of the constituencies are made up. Maidstone, which is currently split between Maidstone and The Weald, and Faversham and Mid-Kent, becomes much more centred on the town itself and will include Park Wood and Shepway North and South wards.

Faversham and Mid Kent, currently represented by Helen Whately MP, disappears, with Faversham itself moving into a new constituency with Canterbury, called Canterbury and Faversham, which will also include one ward, Aylesham, from the borough of Dover.

Helen Whately will see her constituency disappear, but there are new seats to fill
Helen Whately will see her constituency disappear, but there are new seats to fill

Chatham and Aylesford becomes Chatham and The Mallings, and will include Snodland, West Malling, East Malling, Kings Hill, Aylesford and Larkfield along with Princes Park, Walderslade, Luton and Chatham Central.

Ashford remains very much centred on the borough of Ashford. Dartford too remains almost unchanged, while Dover is renamed Dover and Deal and shrinks a little in size.

South Thanet becomes a new constituency of East Thanet and Sandwich to include Margate, Sandwich and Cliftonville.

Folkestone and Hythe gives up some of its area to Ashford, while Gillingham and Rainham expands a little into what had been Chatham and Aylesford.

Gravesham expands a little at Dartford’s expense, and will include the Hartley and Hodsell Street Ward from the borough of Sevenoaks, while the Sevenoaks constituency will include Wrotham, Ightham and Stansted from the borough of Tonbridge and Malling.

North Thanet becomes a newly named constituency, called North Kent Coastal and will be a combination of wards from both the boroughs of Canterbury and Thanet.

Rochester and Strood, and Sittingbourne and Sheppey, remain unchanged, but Tonbridge and Mallling becomes just Tonbridge, but will include wards from the boroughs of Tunbridge Wells and Sevenoaks, such as Pembury and Edenbridge.

The purpose of the re-organisation is to reduce the overall number of MPs in the House of Commons from 650 to 600 and to ensure a more even spread of voters per constituency, with each Parliamentary electorate falling between 71,631 and 78,507 voters.

The public have until December 11 to give their views on the proposed changes. If they go on to be adopted by MPs, the changes would come into effect in 2022.

Visit the Boundary Commission website for more details.

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