New opposition to boundary changes
‘TINKERING’ boundary changes for Argyll and Bute Council elections are ‘driven by irrelevant number-based formulae’ with ‘no financial savings’, the region’s MSP has told Local Government Minister Kevin Stewart.
Michael Russell, the SNP MSP for Argyll and Bute, wrote to Mr Stewart asking him not to implement the Local Government Boundary Commission for Scotland’s recommendations, submitted in May to Scottish ministers for approval.
The commission’s fifth electoral review looked at the number of councillors and the electoral ward boundaries in each of Scotland’s 32 local authorities, ready to be implemented in time for local government elections in May 2017. There were two consultations in 2014 and 2015 and the public can again have their say until July 7. The recommendations reduce Argyll and Bute’s councillors by three to 33 and propose changes to the Oban North Ward and the new Mid Argyll Ward, now running from the top of Loch Fyne to the Garvellachs.
Before becoming Oban North and Lorn’s newly- elected councillor on June 2, Kieron Green called for a cross-party consensus to oppose the proposals. He said: ‘ The Oban South and the Isles ward remains unchanged, but the Oban North and Lorn ward is still proposed to have Luing, Seil, Kilninver and Kilmelford, Avich and Kilchrenan and the east Lochaweside section of Glenorchy and Innishail Community Council moved to the Mid Argyll ward. The only change made to earlier proposals has been to keep Dalmally and Glenorchy within Oban North and Lorn.
‘ While these proposals only directly affect five community council areas, they affect the entire area through the reduction in Argyll and Bute councillors representing our area and the changes to the area boundary. They cut the link between natural community boundaries and the councillors representing these areas which could lead to councillors unfamiliar with local concerns, as well as potentially affecting service delivery in future if more administrative boundaries are changed to match the new wards.
‘ We previously met to discuss these proposals and submitted a joint response on behalf of 10 of our community councils concerning this issue. It is vital we make it clear there is a consensus from our communities that is cross-party in opposing these proposals. Now is the time to be contacting our local MSP, the Highlands and Islands MSPs as well as the minister responsible for local government to make our feelings clear – both as individuals and community councils.’
Any comments on the reports and their recommendations should be submitted by July 7 to: Tony Romain, Scottish Government, Local Government Policy and Relationship Unit, Directorate for Local Government and Communities, Area 3J, Victoria Quay, Edinburgh, EH6 6QQ.
Michael Russell opposes the changes.