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Highland MSP Maree Todd slams plans Boundary Commission plans to cut Highland Councillor numbers as 'completely unacceptable' as coming at the worst possible time

By Scott Maclennan

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Highland MSP Maree Todd who is also the minister for children and young people.
Highland MSP Maree Todd who is also the minister for children and young people.

Regional MSP Maree Todd has added her voice to criticism about plans to slash the number of Highland councillors, saying they are “completely unacceptable”.

She called on locals to voice their opinion of the radical shake-up of wards and councillors proposed by the Boundary Commission by taking part in a public consultation which will run until January 26.

The plans would see Inverness get more councillors but larger wards, which critics say would increase casework to unmanageable levels.

The current Loch Ness ward would also be split in two, down the middle of the loch itself, while Sutherland would lose two councillors and become one geographically huge ward.

Ms Todd said the plans would severely impact democratic representation in almost every part of the Highlands when it can least afford to be under-represented amid the fallout of Brexit.

“The Boundary Commission is currently conducting a 12-week public consultation to gather views on its proposals for the number of councillors, wards and ward boundaries in the Highland Council area,” she said.

“I would urge everyone in the local area to engage in this and make their views known before the end of the consultation period on January 26.

“The proposals put forward by the Boundary Commission are completely unacceptable.

“In the most part, the proposals put forward for the Highlands by the Boundary Commission are not fit for purpose, particularly in our rural and remote communities. With Inverness gaining representation, these proposals will inevitably lead to the perception of centralised power.

“If the Boundary Commission continues to base proposals purely on population size, rural areas in the Highlands will continue to lose out.

“Increases in one area of Highland should not result in decreases in another. Our rural communities need more representation, not less.”

Highland Council leaders are so unhappy at the plans that they have refused even to offer feedback on them to the Boundary Commission.

They have instead written to the Scottish Government to call for an overhaul of how the commission makes its findings and to reject the proposals wholesale.

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