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'Proposals would have a damaging effect on democracy and representation for the Highlands' -council leader Councillor Margaret Davidson calls on Boundary Commission to ‘engage constructively’ with Highland Council

By Louise Glen

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Council leader Margaret Davidson.
Council leader Margaret Davidson.

The leader of Highland Council has written to the Boundary Commission for Scotland informing the commission that members of The Highland Council have agreed unanimously to reject the Commission’s initial proposals in its 2023 Review of UK Parliament Constituencies

Cllr Margaret Davidson called on the Boundary Commission to engage with the local authority to develop proposals which better reflected the needs of the Highlands.

In her letter. Cllr Davidson said: “The council would be keen to engage constructively with the commission with a view to developing alternative proposals.”

She said: “In considering the commission’s proposals members highlighted the following areas of concern: It was felt that these proposals would have a damaging effect on democracy and representation for the Highlands and did not give sufficient consideration to the rurality of the Highlands, a council area larger than Belgium.

"There was a real need to grant protected status for the Highlands similar to the island constituencies of Orkney and Shetland and Na h- Eileanan an Iar.

"The proposals would significantly curtail an MPs’ ability to be visible and engage with constituents which given the existing size of the constituencies was already challenging. To create a constituency over 12,000 square kilometres as being proposed for north Highland was simply unreasonable.

"The proposals were predominantly focused on numbers and did not consider the very real geographical issues facing a large rural area such as Highland. Boundary proposals should take account of the unique geographic nature and remoteness of the Highlands, to maintain the integrity of the Highland boundaries and allow for these Parliamentary Constituencies to better reflect local community ties and current Ward boundaries.

"Members felt that future boundaries should reflect local community ties, council and ward boundaries and not cut through these ties simply to fulfil a numbers exercise. Specifically, there was very little relationship between Badenoch and Strathspey and Elgin. Equally members did not support transferring part of the Ardnamurchan ward to Argyll and Bute Council.

"Members felt that there should be a fundamental review of the methodology and approach used by the Boundary Commission for Scotland.”

READ: PHOTOS: Wind damage in the Highlands sees an Inverness primary school closed and a substantial street sign fall onto a car on Harbour Road

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