Monday, 11 March 2013 02:30
By caribarena news
Antigua St. John's - The Boundaries Commission has submitted its final report to the Speaker of the House, with radically different changes proposed than previously expected.
The big news is that while Robin Yearwood’s St Phillip North constituency remains, Asot Michael’s district of St Peter has been eliminated, in a move likely to cause a major upset in certain quarters of the Antigua Labour Party (ALP) camp.
The four-member commission, which is said to have finished and signed the report last Friday, has maintained the division of Antigua into 16 constituencies, but has altered the boundaries of 15 of them, eliminating the names of four while creating four new constituency names, the report revealed.
“In the case of St Phillip North, the Commission agreed that St Peter be eliminated, while retaining the constituency name, St Phillip North,” the report said. “This was considered sound in the context that most of the communities in St Phillip North are within the St Phillip parish.”
In addition to St. Peter, the constituencies to be eliminated are St Mary’s North, St Mary’s South, and All Saints East and St Luke. Constituencies given new names are St John’s Rural East Central, St John’s Rural South East, All Saints East, and St Mary.
“In creating new constituency names, the Commission felt that this was more appropriate. For example, most if not all communities in the constituencies of St Mary and St John’s Rural South East are located in parishes of St Mary and St John’s, respectively,” the report said.
According to a source close to the Commission, the incumbent Molwyn Joseph will continue to represent St Mary against the United Progressive Party (UPP) incumbent Hilson Baptiste, while St John’s Rural East Central will be contested by former prime minister Lester Bird against a new candidate on the UPP side so far unnamed.
Neither St John’s Rural East, St John’s Rural South East, nor All Saints East have candidates assigned yet from either party. “All the constituencies are very, very similar in size and population now,” a source close to the Commission revealed. “The Commission is unanimous in its belief that this is the best and most equitable 16 constituencies in Antigua.”
According to the report, St Phillips North will now consist of Willikies, Seatons, Glanvilles, Pares Village and Parham, while St Phillips South now includes Newfield Village, Freetown, Bethesda, St Phillip, English Harbour, and Falmouth.
Meanwhile, St Pauls now includes Liberta and the southern half of Swetes and Old Road.
St George will consist of Barnes Hill, New Winthorpes, Piggotts, Fitches Creek, and Paynters Extension, to be contested by UPP’s Jacqui Quinn-Leandro and most likely Michael Freeland, son of Adolphous Freeland for the ALP.
If agreed, the old St Mary’s North will now form St John’s Rural South East, and will most likely be contested by Chester Hughes for the UPP. However, it is still uncertain who would contest the seat for the ALP.
Prime Minister Baldwin Spencer’s constituency, St John’s Rural West, has been cut in two, and is “much smaller now”, the source revealed, with large proportions of PM Spencer’s former district given to Eustace “Teko” Lake’s St Johns Rural South.
In addition, All Saints West will stretch all the way down into St John’s, and will probably be contested by Chanlah Codrington for the UPP and president of the AT&LU Wigley George for the ALP.
St Johns City East incumbent Harold Lovell’s constituency has been extended to take in Sutherlands, and is set to be contested by Melford Nicolas of the ALP.
St John’s Rural North is said to remain mostly unchanged, along with Gaston Browne’s constituency, St John’s City West, which remains the same. Steadroy “Cutie” Benjamin’s constituency, St John’s City South, is now much smaller and takes in all of the areas west of Dasouza Road formerly in St John’s Rural South.
The Commission’s final report is yet to be approved by Parliament. The Commission has been preparing the proposal since its first meeting on April 12, 2012, with a clear division between the opposition ALP’s only representative, James Fuller, and the three others - Clarence Crump, Clovis Ralph, and James Sabastian representing the government.
In the final report, there are 54,591 electors in all the 17 constituencies (including Barbuda), and while the Commission was unable to “fully assess the density of population among the various constituencies, as the last Population Census was not conducted on a constituency-by-constituency basis, it was obvious that the population across the island had grown significantly from a figure of 75,816 persons in 2001 to a figure of 88,411 person in 2011.”
The report said, “This in itself required the Commission to assess how residential areas had expanded over that 10-year period, and to recognise and capture these changes in residential settlements within the proposed constituency boundaries.”