Council leader welcomes confirmation date for Boundary Commission public hearing - Have your say on proposed changes to Parliamentary Constituencies
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The Boundary Commission for Scotland has confirmed details of its public hearing timetable as it enters the next stage of its 2023 Review of UK Parliament Constituencies.
The leader of the Highland Council, Margaret Davidson, has welcomed confirmation that one of the five public hearings will take place in Inverness on February 25.
She said: “This is a chance for people to share their views in person on the Commission’s proposals to create new UK Parliament constituencies for the Highlands – Highland Central; Highland East and Elgin; Highland North. I urge anyone who wants to make representation either in person at the hearing or in writing to do so during this consultation period the Commission are running until the March 23.”
The current three Highland UK Parliament constituencies are – Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross; Ross, Skye and Lochaber; Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey.
Following a meeting of the Highland Council in December the leader wrote to the Commission after members unanimously agreed to reject the Commission’s initial proposals in its 2023 Review of UK Parliament Constituencies. The letter called on the Commission to engage with the council to develop proposals which better reflected the needs of the Highlands.
Cllr Davidson said: "It was felt that these proposals would have a damaging effect on democracy and representation for the Highlands and did not give sufficient consideration to the rurality of the Highlands, a council area larger than Belgium.”
The letter made the following key points:
- There was a real need to grant protected status for the Highlands similar to the Island constituencies of Orkney and Shetland and Na h- Eileanan an Iar.
- The proposals would significantly curtail an MP's ability to be visible and engage with constituents which given the existing size of the constituencies was already challenging. To create a constituency over 12,000 square kilometres as being proposed for North Highland was simply unreasonable.
- The proposals were predominantly focused on numbers and did not consider the very real geographical issues facing a large rural area such as Highland. Boundary proposals should take account of the unique geographic nature and remoteness of the Highlands, to maintain the integrity of the Highland boundaries and allow for these Parliamentary Constituencies to better reflect local community ties and current Ward boundaries.
- Members felt that future boundaries should reflect local community ties, council and ward boundaries and not cut through these ties simply to fulfil a numbers exercise. Specifically, there was very little relationship between Badenoch and Strathspey and Elgin. Equally Members did not support transferring part of the Ardnamurchan ward to Argyll and Bute Council.
- Members felt that there should be a fundamental review of the methodology and approach used by the Boundary Commission for Scotland.
The hearing in Inverness will take place on the February 25 at Jury’s Inn Hotel on Millburn Road. It will begin at 10am and include three sessions depending on demand. These sessions will run from 10am - 12pm, 2pm - 4pm and 6pm - 8pm.
The public are asked to email firstname.lastname@example.org to book a speaking slot.
Anyone who wishes to comment but cannot do so is invited to submit their comments in writing by email, letter or on the Commission’s interactive consultation portal www.bcs2023review.com between February 10 and March 23.