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More than 1000 people sign a petition against a shake-up of Highland Council ward boundaries seen by critics as a 'destruction of rural democracy'

By Scott Maclennan

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Cllr Struan Mackie sending the petition to the Boundary Commission.
Cllr Struan Mackie sending the petition to the Boundary Commission.

More than a thousand people have signed petition against a shake-up of council wards that critics say would mark the “destruction of rural democracy”.

The petition has been handed over to the Boundary Commission by Highland Conservative parliamentary candidate Struan Mackie.

Under their proposals the current Loch Ness ward would be split in two while Sutherland would lose two councillors and become one geographically huge ward while Caithness would also ose one representaitive.

Highland Council has already formally objected formally to the plans which the Boundary Commission wants to be in place for local authority elections to be held in May next year.

Struan Mackie, who is currently councillor for Thuros and Northwest Caithness, launched the petition after branding the proposals a “destruction of rural democracy”.

“I have been overwhelmed with the community support for the petition, with over 1000 signatories from across the Highlands,” he said.

“It is clear just how widespread the opposition is to the Boundary Commission’s plans and that they simply cannot force through this destruction of rural democracy.

“These proposals would only accelerate the relentless centralisation of rural Scotland, removing the ‘local’, from local services.

“Now that the petition has been lodged with the Local Boundary Commission for Scotland, we must now turn to Holyrood and keep up the momentum of this campaign, where government ministers have yet to comment on the proposals.

“It is vital that the Scottish Government understands the impact of the Boundary Commission’s plans that are the direct result of Scottish Government legislation.

“They must intervene and use their powers to halt this.

“Scotland’s remote and rural communities will not forgive the erosion of local democracy and representation at the expense of an unelected quango, who have billed the taxpayer £160,000 so far for their axe-work.”

Highland SNP MSP Maree Todd has also previously criticised the proposals.

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

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