Sunday, 6 November 2011
Laura Sandys: are you really serious about splitting Margate in half?
At the Boundary Review Commission meeting in Maidstone last week we were astonished to hear what the MP for South Thanet had to say about the re-organisation of parliamentary constituencies in this area.
She spoke enthusiastically about the strong links between Little Stour and Ashstone and Ramsgate. According to her, it would be perfectly acceptable to exclude Salmestone from the new Margate and Ramsgate constituency, and not to include either Garlinge or Westbrook!
The QEQM hospital is in Salmestone. It has an A&E department and maternity service. This hospital serves the Thanet community, including Garlinge and Westbrook.
Can you imagine the new Margate Constituency without the QEQM? Without Margate Football Club? Without Margate Cricket Club? Without Hartsdown Technology College? Even without the Margate cemetery and Thanet crematorium?
No doubt Ms. Sandys was being very selective about what she calls ‘community links’.
What is shocking is that our current MP for South Thanet does not seem to want to represent the whole community of Margate and yet is prepared to get rid of significant areas of it in favour of Sandwich, Little Stour and Ashstone.
The proposal from the Labour Party is more logical and respectful of real community ties. Indeed we suggested that Garlinge and Westbrook be included in the new Margate and Ramsgate constituency together with Salmestone.
These wards form an integral part of Margate and share its geographical character as seaside suburbs.
As part of Thanet District Council, they benefit from national, regional and local authorities policies and initiatives.
Broadstairs, Margate and Ramsgate benefit from policies directed at economic and social regeneration for coastal towns with high indices of social and economic deprivation, with higher than regional averages for unemployment, health and poor housing.
Linking the 3 towns has the advantage that these initiatives can be applied seamlessly.
It is therefore important to recognise the cohesive effect on the whole Margate community of including Garlinge and Westbrook in its constituency as well as Salmestone. There are strong cultural links between these 3 wards and Margate, as the Margate community is closely-knit.
We also think that the proposed constituency name of ‘Margate and Ramsgate’ denies a significant place to Broadstairs.
Would it not be more fitting to call this new constituency: ‘Thanet Coastal Towns’?
As for Little Stour & Ashstone and Sandwich, we agree that they are linked and should remain together. They should not be included with Ramsgate and Margate, and certainly not to the detriment of Garlinge, Westbrook and Salmestone.
We strongly urge residents to write to the Boundary Commission (ADD ADDRESS) supporting the inclusion of the Margate Wards of Westbrook and Garlinge and keeping Salmestone in the proposed new constituency of Margate & Ramsgate as they form an integral part of Margate and Thanet.
Michelle Fenner and Alan Poole (Labour Party)