MPs against plans to re­draw elec­tion map

Labour and SNP politi­cians unite against pro­pos­als

Airdrie & Coatbridge Advertiser - - News - Ju­dith Ton­ner

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.”

I don’t think any­one is happy with w the out­come of this re­view; that’s why w there are ru­mours that the whole w process might­get­binned by the UK govern­ment, and I would sup­port that t

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