Size of north constituency may put candidates off

FACING A CHALLENGE: North constituency

FACING A CHALLENGE: North constituency

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THE sheer size of the proposed north constituency could put off potential Tynwald candidates from standing for election.

That is the concern of some members from local authorities in the north.

Under the boundary review proposals, 12 two-seat constituencies would be created, with each having about 7,000 residents.

In the sparsely-populated north however – Ramsey would remain a separate constituency – that area would be an amalgamation of the current Ayre and Michael constituencies, plus Maughold from Garff.

Bride commissioner Michelle Edwin said: ‘I would say it probably won’t work well for us, simply in terms of geography. I understand the parameters and reasons for change, but they may need to have another look at the north, and consider splitting it in two.’

She added: ‘I think it will be a very difficult area to canvas, and it will have great diversity of problems, because the area is so huge.

‘It’s discriminatory toward having people wanting to stand in our area. Terraced houses are much easier!’

Clerk to each of Jurby, Ballaugh and Andreas commissioners, John Quayle, agreed that the boundary changes could make the north off-putting to prospective candidates.

‘The [proposed] north [constituency] is sparse in population, but it is a massive area. It is almost half the land mass of the Isle of Man,’ he said.

‘That’s an awful lot of ground to cover. I don’t know how a candidate could get round before an election.’

Mr Quayle, who has been involved in a number of general elections as a presiding officer, said candidates for the Ayre seat have a big enough challenge canvassing the three parishes as it is.

The changes would essentially add an entire new constituency to that area, plus another parish.

‘That would be my biggest concern. I feel candidates may only get to the more populated areas, and some people may not get the chance to speak to them before an election.’

If change is inevitable, but the size of the north constituency not workable, what does Mr Quayle see as the alternative?

‘My commissioners have always been of the opinion there should be 24 single-seat constituencies. MHKs sharing a constituency may not work together. Rushen [currently three seats] seems to get on well, but in Onchan [also three seats] they often have different ideas, which makes it hard to move together for the area.’

‘They talk about fair representation, but there’s always going to be some imbalance between constituencies. To my mind, they should have another look at it.’

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