Have your say in ‘significant’ MP boundary changes

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Fort William joins the city of Inverness and Morvern and Ardnamurchan become part of Argyll in a new review of MP constituency boundaries out for public consultation this week.

The Boundary Commission for Scotland has published its initial proposals for a new map of UK Parliamentary constituencies in 2023, marking the start of an eight-week public consultation on the proposals, running until the end of Wednesday December 8.

Two Scottish Members of Parliament stand to lose their jobs, as legislation cuts the number of Westminster seats in Scotland from 59 to 57 in 2023. England has been allocated 543, plus 10; Northern Ireland 18, no change, and Wales 32, down eight.

Time for some juggling, but there are a few rules the Boundary Commission for Scotland has to stick to.

‘By law,’ it explains, ‘every constituency we propose must contain between 69,724 and 77,062 electors, unless its area is greater than 12,000 square kilometres, and a constituency with between 69,724 and 77,062 electors is not reasonably possible.

‘Due to the reduction in the number of constituencies, and the requirements for each constituency to have a number of electors within set limits, significant changes to existing constituencies are required.’

The constituencies of Na h-Eileanan an Iar – electorate 21,177 – and Orkney and Shetland – electorate 34,824 – are protected by legislation and therefore not under review.

Nine others are being left alone: Ayr, Carrick and Cumnock; Central Ayrshire; East Renfrewshire; Edinburgh South West; Kilmarnock and Loudoun; Midlothian; North Ayrshire and Arran; Stirling; and West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine. Note that Argyll and Lochaber are not on this list.

Most of the current Ross, Skye and Lochaber constituency, represented by the House of Commons’ SNP leader Ian Blackford MP, will be replaced by a new Highland Central constituency, which takes the Highland capital away from the current Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey constituency, held by a fellow SNP MP Drew Hendry.

Under the proposals, the Ross, Skye and Lochaber constituency would shrink in its northern and southern boundaries, but expand east to take in Loch Ness and Inverness, shown by the pink border.

The Ross, Skye and Lochaber constituency’s northern boundary retreats south from Lochinver down to Strathcarron, lost to a new Highland North constituency covering the whole of north Scotland from Torridon and Beauly up to Cape Wrath and John o’ Groats.

In return for its lost northern territory, the new Highland Central constituency spreads eastwards, subsuming all of Loch Ness from Fort Augustus to Inverness, before wiggling back down through the Monadhliath Mountains to Roybridge.

Meanwhile, the current Argyll and Bute constituency creeps northwards, taking away the peninsulas of Morvern and Ardnamurchan up to the A830, plus Glencoe, Duror and Onich, from Ross, Skye and Lochaber, with the Corran Ferry chugging in between.

Lord Matthews, deputy chairman of the Boundary Commission for Scotland, said: ‘Today is the beginning of a process and we now want to hear the views of the public. We will reflect on responses to the consultation and make changes where appropriate and where the legislation allows us to do so. We strongly encourage voters to make their views heard.

‘We welcome all comments on our proposals on our consultation site at www.bcs2023review.com. We particularly want to hear suggestions on two aspects, suggestions for alternative boundaries that comply with the legislative requirements and constituency names.’

The recommendations do not affect council boundaries, ward boundary or community council boundaries, council tax and the services a council provides, school catchment areas, postcodes or postal addresses, access to public or private services or transport, policing or fire service areas, or NHS services such as GPs or local hospitals.

NO_T44_Boundary Consultation_01_Argll_jpeg

The proposed now boundary for the Argyll and Bute constituency in 2023, shown by the pink border.

NO_F44_Boundary Consultation_01_Highland Central_jpeg

Under the proposals, the Ross, Skye and Lochaber constituency would shrink in its northern and southern boundaries, but expand east to take in Loch Ness and Inverness, shown by the pink border.