Several PLP MPs brace for boundary cuts
Several Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) Members of Parliament (MP) voiced disappointment yesterday in reports that their constituencies will be significantly impacted by pending boundary cuts.
The MPs spoke in interviews with The Nassau Guardian.
St. Thomas More MP Frank Smith said his constituency and St. Cecelia have essentially been eliminated.
“This is a clear case of gerrymandering, but I am not crying about it. I am running in the newly constituted Constituency 14 and I am going to win,” Smith said.
The Guardian reported on Monday that the constituency of St. Thomas More will be no more, with 12 of its polling divisions being folded into what will become Montagu (Constituency 14), and its remaining four polling divisions being folded into what will be redrawn as Farm Road.
However, as the official boundary report has yet to be tabled in Parliament, the information still remains unofficial.
Smith acknowledged that the proposal is to absorb St. Thomas More into Farm Road and Montagu, but he said he is not prepared to abandon the people he represents.
“Really you [would] recognize that communities have been affected,” he said.
“This is the first time that Kemp Road has been unified in one single constituency. As you can imagine, most of the people added into Kemp Road have a common interest; so for them it’s good.”
He said that the addition of Blair to Kemp Road may prove disconcerting as the two areas have different concerns and interests.
“There would be some commonality [between the two], but by and large you will see it’s just a numbers exercise for the government to try and win this seat from the PLP.”
The redrawn Elizabeth will look drastically different as well, with only four of its current polling divisions to remain in the constituency along with five polling divisions from Yamacraw and one from St. Anne’s.
Elizabeth MP Ryan Pinder said he’s prepared to get to know the new constituents, although he did admit that it is premature to comment on the boundary cuts.
“It’s still unofficial, and given the latest developments in the House, it’s a little unclear as to what is going to happen with the cuts,” he said.
“We did adjourn the House for two weeks [on Monday] indicating that the boundaries report would not be ready to come to the House for a minium of two weeks.”
Despite that, he did reveal constituency number five is the new Elizabeth.
“Certainly, if you proceed along the lines of what was reported about the boundaries report, the seat that was cut, loses the majority of Elizabeth’s polling divisions,” he said.
“I lost seven of my polling divisions and acquired six new ones. The majority of the seat has new potential constituents. That means you have to get to know who lives in the areas.”
Pinder also echoed some of Smith’s opinions regarding the information in the report.
“My personal opinion is that you need more of an independent Boundaries Commission,” he said.
“This form of gerrymandering is lawful in our society.”
Pinder won Elizabeth by three votes after the Election Court ordered a recount of the votes cast in the 2010 bye-election.
Englerston MP Glenys Hanna-Martin said if the cuts in her constituency are confirmed, she would regret the government’s decision to divide Englerston.
The majority of Englerston would be comprised of nine polling divisions from St. Cecelia.
It would also include seven polling divisions from Englerston, three from Mount Moriah, one from Garden Hills and one from Bain & Grants Town.
“That information indicated that the constituency that I represented for two terms, which I call Englerston proper, has been historically a subdivision unity since inception, for the first time divided by Cordeaux Avenue,” she said.
“The way Englerston is aligned is [that] numerous streets go across intersecting roads in a parallel fashion. From what we understand what will happen is that one part of Charles Vincent Street will be in one area and another part of Charles Vincent Street will be in another area.
“What I like tremendously about Englerston is that it still has the resonance of the traditional community energies and people have lived there a long time and they bring that traditional thing that is dying out.
“When you divide a community politically, it has to have an effect [and] if that is what has to happen I regret that tremendously because I think the community deserves to stay together.”
The Nassau Guardian understands that the Boundaries Commission will meet today with a view of completing its report by Friday.