Face of the Tunbridge Wells constituency could change dramatically

Fran Taylor

The constituency of Tunbridge Wells faces a dramatic redrawing if proposed boundary changes go ahead.

Under nationwide proposals to reduce the number of constituencies from 650 to 600, each with an electorate within 5 per cent of 74,769 voters, the current boundaries that make up MP Greg Clark’s seat will be significantly altered by the time the 2020 General Election gets underway.

Proposals released by the Boundary Commission show the borders of the constituency being pushed further westwards to incorporate Chiddingstone, Edenbridge, Leigh and Fordcombe – all of which are currently part of the Tonbridge and Malling constituency.

To the east, numerous rural villages, stretching from Lamberhurst to Linkhill, are being lost to a vast new constituency called High Weald. Paddock Wood, Capel and Brenchley, and Horsmonden will remain within the constituency.

Changes to the constituency boundaries will not have an impact on the area controlled by Tunbridge Wells Borough Council which already contains parts served by the MP for Maidstone Helen Grant. Her part of the borough will be transfered to High Weald instead.

It is also highly unlikely that the changes will impact on Mr Clark’s ability to retain his seat as all surrounding constituencies are held by other Conservatives who account for all but five of the South East MPs.

It is highly improbable that he will face an internal challenge to represent the seat at the next General Election from a displaced Conservative MP as only two out of the 83 constituencies which make up the South East are being scrapped.

Commenting on the changes, Mr Clark said: “It is a great privilege to represent villages such as Goudhurst, Hawkhurst, Kilndown, Lamberhurst and Sandhurst, and I would obviously be sad to lose them.

“These are initial proposals and I will work with neighbouring MPs and local councillors to make sure the views of all residents are heard by the independent Boundary Commission. Whatever the final decision, I will always work hard to serve all my constituents.”

To view the proposed changes visit www.bce2018.org.uk

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