BASSETERRE, St Kitts (CUOPM) -- The Constituency Boundaries Commission, which has submitted its report to Governor General Sir Edmund Lawrence, has unanimously agreed to retain the 11 constituencies in St Kitts and Nevis.
“It was unanimously agreed that we shall retain the 11 constituencies in St Kitts and Nevis. Everybody agreed on that,” said Marcella Liburd, a member of the five-person commission appointed by the governor general.
Speaking in the St Kitts and Nevis National Assembly, she pointed out that the constitution states that all constituencies shall contain as near equal numbers of inhabitants as appears to the Constituency Boundaries Commission to be reasonable practicable but the commission may depart from this rule to such extent as it considers expedient to take account of the following factors, that is to say the requirement of rule 1 and the differences in the density of the populations in the respective islands of St Christopher and Nevis; (b), the need to ensure adequate representation of the sparsely populated rural areas (c), the means of communication, (d), geographical feature and (e) existing administrative boundaries.
“All of this was taken into consideration. However, the Commission considered that the overarching rule was for equality in the number of inhabitants or near equal number of inhabitants in each constituency and that you may depart from that rule, and in so doing, to take into consideration those maters previously mentioned,” said Liburd.
She said the Commission also looked at the High Court judgement of 2009 to ensure that the mistakes made by the Commission are not repeated.
“We looked at the Census Report for 2011. We also looked at previous reports of Commissions and we also in accordance with Section 49 Subsection (3), set out the rules by which we would be guided in this Commission and we decided unlike previous times, when there were no consultations in 1983 and no consultation in 1988. In 1983, the Commission met for one hour and 15 minutes. One hour for St. Kitts and 15 minutes for Nevis. No consultation. We decided to consult with all the political parties and get from them, proposals as to how they would like to see the boundaries realign in St. Kitts and Nevis,” Liburd told lawmakers and the nation.
She said Sam Condor and Dr Timothy Harris were invited individually to make proposals and recommendations to the Commission and each member of the Commission was also invited to make submissions.
Liburd said it was unanimously agreed by Commission members to seek legal advice on the use of the preliminary census report and the motion of no confidence.
“We did. we got the legal opinions back, we discussed them and the legal opinion was that the no confidence motion had nothing to do with the work of the Commission so we proceeded and that the census report could be used with some additions to it, by calling in some of the experts to fill any gaps and we did just that. We invited the statisticians from both St Kitts and Nevis, the director of physical planning and environment and Mr James Buchanan, a private land surveyor to give technical input to the Commission. They were asked questions to satisfy the difficulties with the preliminary report,” she disclosed.
She said the constitution speaks to inhabitants and not voters as the parliamentary representative must look after all inhabitants in the constituency and not just the people who vote.
Liburd disclosed that the Constituency Boundaries Commission looked at the population of St Kitts and Nevis according to the census and the total count was 46,398 inhabitants. On St Kitts there was 36, 983 inhabitants and on Nevis 11,415.
When this is broken down into existing constituencies, the numbers were as follows: Constituency #1, 5,022 inhabitants; Constituency #2, 4,549 inhabitants; Constituency #3, 4,491 inhabitants; Constituency #4, 2,968 inhabitants; Constituency #5, 2,798 inhabitants; Constituency #6, 4,550 inhabitants; Constituency #7, 3,647 inhabitants; Constituency #8, 6,764 inhabitants; Nevis #9, 5,220 inhabitants; Nevis #10, 2,376 inhabitants and Nevis #11, 3,819 inhabitants.
Those were the numbers for the 11 constituencies by inhabitants. The Committee then decided that it would come up with a mean/average number of inhabitants per constituency and so those numbers were divided by 8 and 3 respectively and the result of that was that the average number per constituency for St Kitts should be 4,372 inhabitants and Nevis 3,805 inhabitants.
With respect to the constituencies, for example: Constituency #1 is 5,022 compared to the average of 4,372; Constituency #8 is 6,764; Constituency #4 is 2,968; and Constituency #5 is 2,798.
With respect to Nevis, the average is 3,805, but Nevis #9 had 5,220 and Nevis #10 2,376. The commission then proceeded to try to get each constituency to have as close as possible, equal numbers of inhabitants in each of the constituencies in St Kitts and Nevis and close to the average.
It was unanimously agreed therefore that the number of constituencies would not change and the constituencies would be divided to get an average of 4,372 inhabitants in St Kitts or close to that and an average of 3,805 inhabitants in Nevis or close to that.
The following were recommended as the new boundaries and the new constituencies:
St Christopher 8: the Parish of St Peters including Stapleton, Milligin, Fountain, Cedar Grove, John England, Parrays Village, Upper Monkey Hill, Lower Monkey Hill, New Road, Douglas Estate, CLICO, Ambassador Shore, Conaree, Needsmust, Canada and North Frigate Bay. This gave a total of 4,335 inhabitants, which was closest to the average of 4,372.
St Christopher 7 will include the Parish of St Mary, which comprises of Keys, Cayon, Ottley’s and Lodge; the parish of St Mary will be part of the Parish of Christ Church mainly and also to be included is Phillip’s; 50% of the inhabitants of Lodge Ghaut, Boureaux and Molineux in all, gives a total of 4,083. The constituency will end south of the hospital road in Molineux.
St Christopher 6 would be Lodge Ghaut, Boureaux, Molineux, from Nicola Town, Christ Church, Mansion and Estridge as well as the parish of St John and this gives a total of 4,179 inhabitants for this constituency; and the Parish of St John includes Tabernacle, Stone Castle, Lynches, Lavington, Saddlers, Belle Vue, Harris’s, Parson’s, Pogson’s and Dieppe Bay.
St Christopher 5 would be the Parish of St Paul’s, which includes St Paul’s Village and Newton Ground and part of the Parish of St Anne. The line of demarcation for the end of this constituency would be at the Sacred Heart Catholic Church; this constituency would have a total of 4,139 inhabitants.
St Christopher 4 would include 1,100 inhabitants from the Parish of St Anne, 2,479 inhabitants from the parish of St Thomas and 481 inhabitants from Challengers North and Stone Fort, being a total of 4,016 inhabitants for constituency #4. The parish of St Tomas includes New Guinea, Brimstone Hill, and Half-Way tree, Godwin Ghaut, Con Phipps, Middle Island, Verchilds, Frank lands and Old Road.
St Christopher 3 will remain as it is because the existing number of inhabitants in the census report (4,491) and so the commission felt that it fell close to or within the average.
St Christopher 2 also remains unadjusted as the existing constituency #2 in the census had 4,549 inhabitants; again close to the average.
St Christopher 1 would remain practically unchanged, except for about 300 inhabitants from North Frigate Bay that is already added on to Constituency #8 in the parish of St Peters. Constituency #1 had over 5,000 and now has a total of 4,722 inhabitants when 300 inhabitants are removed from North Frigate Bay that are with Constituency #8
Nevis 9 had some 5,000 inhabitants and the average was 3,008, so a total of 1,357 inhabitants were removed from that constituency. These were from Pond Hill, Beach Road, Cole Hill, Burden Pasture, Morning Star and Church Ground. That constituency now consists of 3,864 inhabitants.
Nevis 10 would be the current constituency plus those 1,357 inhabitants from the areas mentioned and so that constituency now has a total of 3,733 inhabitants.
Nevis 11 remains as it is at present because that constituency in the census had 3, 819 inhabitants.