MPs against plans to redraw election map
Labour and SNP politicians unite against proposals
Monklands’ MPs have both expressed their opposition to finalised plans redrawing the area’s parliamentary constituencies – which would see Airdrie split in two and both its and Coatbridge’s names disappear from the political map.
Proposals from the Boundary Commission for Scotland (BCS), to meet government plans to reduce the number of MPs from 650 to 600, place most of Airdrie in a seat alongside Cumbernauld and Kilsyth; while a portion of the Airdrie South council ward is separated from the rest of the town into a constituency with Shotts, Mossend and sections of similarly- divided Motherwell and Wishaw.
Neil Gray, the SNP MP for Airdrie, says he “strongly opposes” the town being divided and said: “I don’t think anyone is happy with the outcome of this review” – while both he and neighbour Hugh Gaffney, the Coatbridge Labour member, called for the plans to be scrapped.
The reduction in the number of MPs would see Scotland reduce from 59 constituencies to 53, with electoral restrictions also meaning that each new seat must have between 71,031 and 78,507 electors.
Plans see the Airdrie North and Central wards, along with Cairnhill, Gartlea and Brownsburn, placed in the new “Lanarkshire North” seat with Cumbernauld and Kilsyth
Craigneuk, Petersburn, Calderbank and Chapelhall would be split from the rest of Airdrie, falling into “Lanarkshire North- East”; while Coatbridge becomes part of “Lanarkshire NorthWest”.
Mr Gray told the Advertiser: “I am very disappointed at the outcome of the Boundary Commission review. I strongly opposed Airdrie being split up; it doesn’t make sense to have communities that naturally work together being divided into different constituencies.
“SNP colleagues and I have opposed the need for these changes to happen at all – to reduce the number of Scottish MPs while increasing the number of unelected Lords is ludicrous.
“I don’t think anyone is happy with the outcome of this review; that’s why there are rumours that the whole process might get binned by the UK government, and I would support that.”
Coatbridge representative Mr Gaffney agreed, saying: “I reject these proposals – I don’t believe that a priority for this do- nothing Tory government can, in all seriousness, be slashing the number of MPs we send to Westminster.
“The plan is based on 2015 electoral information, which excludes nearly two million new voters, over 700,000 of whom are young people.
“With extra powers due to return to Westminster and the devolved administrations in March, as well as a torrent of new legislation, I do not believe these proposals are fit for purpose.”
He added: “I was honoured to be elected as the member for Coatbridge, Chryston & Bellshill; although I’m a proud Lanarkshire boy, I’m disappointed that the names of our towns and communities have been taken out of the proposed new constituency names.
“I call on the Government to scrap the proposals, get on with the job or call an election and make way for a Labour government.”
The finalised proposals have now been presented to Parliament following a review process running since February 2016 – which saw local residents respond to the consultation opposing Airdrie’s split with comments including “bordering on the ridiculous”, “regrettable” and “a town of its size should retain its identity and a unified voice in terms of representation at Westminster”.
BCS deputy chair Lord Matthews said of the finalised plans: “The Commission is extremely grateful to all those who assisted us in developing our recommendations by submitting views or attending public hearings.
“We listened carefully to comments made on our revised proposals; we believe our final recommendations meet the requirements of the legislation and, within those constraints, fairly reflect the views expressed during our consultations.”
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