Friday, 29 June 2012 02:30
By Everton Barnes
Antigua St. John’s - Further details of the proposals before the Boundaries Commission calling for changes to the electoral boundaries across Antigua & Barbuda have now come to light.
Caribarena.com’s reporters sat down on Thursday with Commission member, James “Jimmy” Fuller, who was appointed by the Leader of the Opposition as required by the law. Three of the four members are appointed by the Prime Minister.
Fuller said he is not in support of the radical changes that are being proposed by the United Progressive Party-dominated Commission. He is also not satisfied with the manner in which the proposed changes are being made.
“We have had no discussions on these proposed changes. The chairman (Clarence Crump) came to one meeting with all the changes to the boundaries already made and he merely informed me that ‘this is what we will be doing’,” he disclosed.
He added that as a member of the Commission, he was not presented with any documentation, reports or anything else to indicate the basis upon which the changes are being suggested.
According to Fuller, the chairman told him that the idea is to provide for equity in the number of electors in the 16 constituencies on Antigua (with 52,000 voters now on the list and subtracting 1,000 for Barbuda, this works out to be just over 3,100 voters per constituency).
However, he added, when he suggested that they do the numbers and then redraw the boundaries, he said that Crump said ‘no’ that the plan is to draw the boundaries first as is being proposed.
“I am very unhappy with what the UPP members are proposing. In fact, the idea to provide equity in the numbers is more talk than substance. For example, they are proposing to leave the St John’s City East constituency intact. But that has less that 2,000 voters,” he said.
Fuller said he is convinced that the proposed changes are designed to ensure that the UPP has an unfair advantage going into the next general elections.
“The Antigua Labour Party is going to challenge this in the court,” he remarked, “there’s no way we are going to accept his nonsense.”
He said the UPP’s attempt to gain the upper hand is apparent with the changes being proposed. While sixteen seats will remain on Antigua there are new constituencies being created with two new names among the changes.
He disclosed that Potters, Potters Extension and Gunthropes are being removed from St George’s to be added to St Johnson’s Village and Skerritt’s Pasture to create a new constituency named St John’s Rural East South, and the remaining portions of St John’s Rural East to become St John’s Rural East North.
Other changes include St Peter which runs from Parham all the way to Willikies and a single St Phillip from Newfield, St Phillip, Freetown, Bethesda, Christian Hill and Piccadilly added to English Harbour Falmouth and Cobbs Cross.
St Paul now runs from Liberta, Swetes and John Hughes all the way to Old Road.
St Mary’s South runs from Urlings to Jennings, while St Mary’s North now consists of Bendals, Bathlodge, Cashew Hill and Browne’s Avenue.
All the other constituencies, except St John’s City West and St John’s City East, are affected in some way.
Fuller noted that to date he has not seen a preliminary report from the census to determine the allocated numbers of voters and the demarcation of boundaries as proposed. “This entire process is wrong!” he added.
Attempts to reach Crump have so far been unsuccessful. However, Caribarena.com will pursue this developing story to include sitting down with Crump for his take on the proposed changes.