Friday, 14 October 2011

The shrinking Isle

The number of people registered to vote in Thanet is shrinking, with up to a sixth of voters having vanished from the electoral register in some places over the last four years.

The council’s Labour group is calling for an investigation after it emerged that more than 1,400 voters have disappeared in two of the wards its members represent – Margate Central and Cliftonville West.

Research carried out by Dane Valley ward councillor Will Scobie showed that Thanet was the only one of four East Kent districts to suffer an overall fall, with the number registered across the isle down 4.2 per cent.

By contrast, Shepway increased its electorate by nearly 10 per cent over the same period, while Canterbury was up 3.6 per cent and Dover 1.2 per cent.

The number on register in three-member Cliftonville West ward has plunged 16.2 per cent from 5,288 to 4,429 between 2007 and 2011, while two-member Margate Central has dropped 16.7 per cent from 3,516 to 2,942.

Five other Labour-held wards saw falls of more than 5 per cent over the period, with a 7.7 per cent decline in Ramsgate’s Eastcliff ward.

Shadow cabinet member Cllr Rick Everitt said: “These numbers matter, not only because people are losing their right to vote, but because the national political map is currently being redrawn on the basis of them.

“We recognise that some wards have a high turnover of residents, but people move in as well as out and with a rolling register they can join during the year so that’s no excuse.

“Neighbouring Conservative-run councils have managed to increase their electoral roll, so we have to ask why the Thanet Tories have let this drift to such an extent on their watch.

“Registration is supposed to be compulsory and the council has a statutory duty to keep the register up to date, but in some wards we find that house after house is missing from the roll, while in other cases details are out of date or just wrong.” 

Labour suspicion was fuelled when members tried to raise the issue at the council’s electoral matters working party and was told that the group could only discuss polling districts and polling stations.

Cllr Everitt added: “With the government planning to introduce personal, instead of household, registration in 2014, we believe things are likely to get worse. Thanet needs to get a grip on the situation now.”

1 comment:

  1. Surely you cannot seriously believe someone is trying to 'lose' voters. The problem probably stems from people not filling out and returning their forms and I noticed, when canvassing prior to the last election, that even in Broadstairs there are many homes with no registered voters. Whilst registration may be compulsory just how do you enforce that if people simply do not want, for some reason, to exist.

    What is it with Labour that you seem smell a rat in every situation. By all means try to get more people registered but please save us the foul play suggestions.