Concerns aired over plans to shake-up constituencies
Councillors have voiced their disapproval at Perth and Kinross potentially being spread across four Westminster constituencies rather than two should plans for a wide-ranging shake-up come to pass.
Under the latest proposal from the Boundary Commission for Scotland, Perth and Kinross would be split across the new constituencies of Perth and Loch Leven, North Tayside, Clackmannanshire and Forth Valley, and Glenrothes.
While councillors accepted it was an improvement from the previous recommendation of five, it is still far more than the current two: Ochil and South Perthshire – which includes Strathearn and Strathallan as well as nearby Clackmannanshire – and Perth and North Perthshire.
At a meeting of Perth and Kinross Council on Wednesday, November 9, Depute Provost Andrew Parrott tabled an emergency motion seeking approval of PKC’s response statement.
As part of the 2023 Review of UK Parliament Constituencies Scotland would drop from 55 to 53 constituencies. The review began in January last year. The latest revised proposals were published on November 8 and are now out for a final four-week consultation, which is due to run until December 5.
The Boundary Commission for Scotland will submit its final recommendations before July 1 next year.
At the recent meeting, Depute Provost Parrott said: “I do not think we can escape from being in [at least] a third constituency.”
The proposed response statement expressed concern about Scotlandwell and parts of Perth and Kinross Council’s Kinross-shire ward being included in the Glenrothes ward.
It stated: “Perth and Kinross Council strongly object to the inclusion of this area in the proposed Glenrothes constituency and it is requested that this area be included instead in the proposed Perth and Loch Leven constituency.
“The historic county of Kinross has never previously been split between parliamentary constituencies. The present proposal breaches the design principles of not crossing council boundaries and not breaking community ties.”
As for mixing Strathallan with Clackmannanshire and parts of the Falkirk Council area such as Larbert and Denny into one constituency – potentially to be known as ‘Clackmannanshire and Forth Valley’ – the SNP councillor said: “It
is about the oddest constituency I have ever heard proposed in my life.”
The council’s response proposed Strathallan be paired with Stirling instead.
And the depute provost thought ‘North Tayside’ was a “nonsense name” for the constituency.
The boundary would stretch from
Rannoch Station across to Montrose in Angus.
Cllr Parrott, who represents one of the Perth wards, told the council: “I think ‘North Tayside’ is a name from the past. ‘North Perthshire and Angus’ is much better. I am always a believer a constituency should represent the people who live in it.”
Highland Perthshire Conservative councillor John Duff seconded the motion.
He said: “I think all of us had significant concerns regarding the original proposals from the Boundary Commission, not least because it divided Perth and Kinross into five Westminster constituencies.
“While the reduction to four constituencies is an improvement, some of the proposals around the margins make very little sense and continue to breach their own design principles unnecessarily.
“The minor amendments proposed in the motion are sensible, achievable and appropriate and the adjustment needed would cause very little problem for the Boundaries Commission.”
Labour Carse of Gowrie member Alasdair Bailey suggested the “antique” ‘first past the post’ voting system was “the real problem” with the Westminster system.
He added: “We cannot fix that by getting our crayons out and drawing the boundaries in different places on a map.
“It is a crying shame that we must address this today when we have such important business on child poverty and climate change.”
The proposed response to the Boundary Commission was approved.