Issued on behalf of Boundaries Scotland.
Boundaries Scotland has submitted its final proposals for councillor numbers and wards in Argyll and Bute, Highland and North Ayrshire council areas to Scottish Ministers.
The Islands (Scotland) Act 2018 required the Commission to review the six councils containing inhabited islands (Argyll and Bute, Highland, North Ayrshire, Orkney, Shetland and Na h-Eileanan an Iar) as soon as practicable. The reviews formally commenced in January 2019 and the Commission has submitted its proposals on a timescale that would allow them to be in force, if accepted by the Scottish Parliament, in time for the local government elections in 2022.
Ronnie Hinds, Chair of the Commission, said:
"We are very pleased to submit to Scottish Ministers our final proposals for electoral arrangements in Argyll and Bute, Highland and North Ayrshire council areas, all of which are part of the Scottish mainland but include inhabited islands. We believe our proposals are in the interests of effective and convenient local government, reflect the legislative requirements governing our work and respond constructively to consultation responses.
"We recognise the unique, distinct character of each of Scotland’s island council areas and the challenges, and opportunities, these present. We are grateful to the councils and to the public who responded to our consultations. Their input has been invaluable in shaping our proposals and while we must take account of our obligations under the legislation and consider the interests of the whole council area, we have been able to take on board many of the views expressed. Balancing island communities and their unique characteristics with the importance of their links to the mainland we have used the new flexibility offered by the legislation to propose a single member island ward for Arran as well as three 2-member “islands-only” wards in Argyll and Bute council area. Further flexibility offered by the Scottish Elections (Reform) Act 2020 has allowed us to propose 5-member wards in North Ayrshire and Highland council areas.”
The Commission conducted two stages of consultation during the Reviews, consulting with each Council for two months before consulting with the public for 12 weeks.
We conducted this review as the Local Government Boundary Commission for Scotland but have submitted our final proposals and report to Ministers as Boundaries Scotland following the commencement of the relevant section of Scottish Elections (Reform) Act 2020. Part 4 of the Act amended our name to reflect our added responsibilities for reviewing Scottish Parliament boundaries.
Under the Local Government (Scotland) Act 1973 the Commission is required to conduct electoral reviews of each council area every 15 years. One of the main reasons we undertake reviews is that the population, and therefore the electorate, of any local authority area is constantly changing, with migration into or out of areas as well as within the same area. As a result of such changes, some councillors may represent considerably more or fewer electors than other councillors in the same council area.
When reviewing electoral arrangements the Commission is required to take account of the following legislative factors:
- the interests of effective and convenient local government
- within each council, each councillor should represent as closely as possible the same number of electors
- local ties which would be broken by making a particular boundary
- the desirability of fixing boundaries that are easily identifiable
- special geographical considerations
The Local Governance (Scotland) Act 2004, as amended by the Islands (Scotland) Act 2018 and the Scottish Elections (Reform) Act 2020 allows use of two, three, four or five councillors per ward across Scotland and single councillor wards only where such a ward contains an inhabited island.
Our final proposals for Orkney Islands, Shetland Islands and Na h-Eileanan an Iar council areas were submitted to Scottish Ministers on 28 May 2021. Under procedures introduced by the Scottish Elections (Reform) Act 2020 Scottish Ministers must lay the Commission’s reports before the Scottish Parliament and the Order to implement the proposals is subject to affirmative procedure.
Contact for Further Information:
Secretary to Boundaries Scotland
Tel: 0131 244 2001
A summary of our proposals is below and maps are available on request.
Information on the review can also be found on the Commission’s website: www.boundaries.scot