Boundary Commission’s proposals thrown out by Highland Council
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Following discussions at a Highland Council meeting, the council leader has formally written to the Local Government Boundary Commission on their proposals for councillor numbers and ward boundaries in the Highland Council area.
She advised the Boundary Commission that the council rejected the commission’s proposals in their entirety and formally requested that they halt this process immediately and review the whole issue of remote and rural area boundaries and councillor numbers in consultation with the Highland Council and other local authorities who have mainland councils with inhabited islands.
Under the proposals, the local authority would lose two councillors overall, Inverness would be divided into four wards with two extra councillors and the Great Glen would become two wards. That led to significant concerns that councillors would have to represent unmanageably large populations.
Commenting on the proposal, Cllr Davidson said: “The council is deeply unhappy with the commission’s proposals. They totally contradict the ethos of the Island (Scotland) Act, which was to enhance the democratic process and increase representation of remote and geographically disadvantaged areas.
"Much of our mainland areas are more remote and have far fewer transport links than many of the islands who have quicker and more reliable links to Scotland’s major cities. The parity level for the islands is one to 800 electorate. In Highland the parity level is a staggering one councillor to 2,800 electorate.
“There is simply no justification to subject our remote and fragile communities to an undemocratic and unwanted boundary review on the back of the Islands Act - particularly in the middle of a national pandemic. If our mainland ward structures are being altered then, it should be the case that the whole of Scotland’s local authorities must also be looked at. If not, it appears clear that Highland is being unilaterally singled out for a reduction in the number of councillors and that is wholly unacceptable. We are receiving a remarkable degree of support from our community councils and individuals across Highland.”
She added: “The commission’s approach to determining fair representation for geographically sparsely populated areas is profoundly unfair, contradictory and undemocratic and should be subject of a fundamental review. We have approached out local MSPs and government ministers with responsibility for the Boundary Commission to register Highland’s concerns.