News

Review of electoral arrangements: Na h-Eileanan an Iar council area – public consultation

Published: 10 Sep 2019 00:01

Issued on behalf of The Local Government Boundary Commission for Scotland.

The Local Governmet Boundary Commission for Scotland has begun a public consultation on proposals for councillor numbers and ward boundaries in Na h-Eileanan an Iar council area. The consultation will run until Monday 2 December 2019.

The Commission wants members of the public and local communities to let it know what they think of the proposals so local views can be taken account of in developing final recommendations for Scottish Ministers.

The islands legislation introduced in 2018 allows for use of one or two member wards, in addition to the current three and four member wards, where a ward includes an inhabited island. 

This was one of a number of changes made by the Islands (Scotland) Act 2018 to underpin the Scottish Government’s objective of ensuring that there is a sustained focus across Government and the public sector to meet the needs of island communities now and in the future.

The Commission conducted a consultation on its proposals with the Comhairle from 20 March to 20 May 2019 and is now beginning a 12 week public consultation. 

The current review will result in recommendations for the number of councillors on the council and the number and boundaries of wards for the election of those councillors.  

The proposals for public consultation in Na h-Eileanan an Iar recommend 28 councillors, three fewer than at present, across 11 wards, an increase of two.

We expect our recommendations, if accepted, to be in place for the next local government elections in May 2022.

Ronnie Hinds, Chair of the Commission, said:

“We are pleased to begin our public consultation on electoral arrangements for Na h-Eileanan an Iar council area.  We have already consulted the Comhairle and have considered their views carefully before preparing the proposals published today. We now look forward to hearing the public’s views.

“We welcome the flexibility offered by the Islands (Scotland) Act 2018 to use one or two member wards and have used this flexibility in Na h-Eileanan an Iar council area where we propose a single member Barraigh agus Bhatarsaigh (Barra and Vatersay) ward as well as five 2-member wards elsewhere in the council area.

“It is important that electoral arrangements for Scottish councils are effective and that our proposals deliver on requirements for electoral parity and, as far as possible, take account of local ties and special geographical considerations.  Hearing local views on these issues is vitally important as we develop our final recommendations.”

Background

Under the Local Government (Scotland) Act 1973 the Commission is required to conduct electoral reviews at intervals of 8 to 12 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 these changes, some councillors may represent considerably more or fewer electors than other councillors in the same council area.

The Islands (Scotland) Act 2018 requires 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 Commission will make its recommendations for these 6 council areas to Scottish Ministers by May 2021, in order that the resulting wards can be used for the local government elections in May 2022.

When reviewing electoral arrangements the Commission is required to take account of the following factors:

  • The interests of effective and convenient local government
  • Within each council, each councillor should represent the same number of electors as closely as possible
  • Local ties which would be broken by making a particular boundary
  • The desirability of fixing boundaries that are easily identifiable
  • Special geographical considerations

Where a ward contains an inhabited island the Commission can recommend that it elects between one and four councillors. In all other circumstances a ward must return either three or four councillors.

Maps of the proposals are available on request.

Information on the review can also be found on the Commission’s website: www.lgbc-scotland.gov.uk

Our proposals for Na h-Eileanan an Iar Council area  

The Commission’s proposals reduce the number of councillors from 31 to 28 while increasing the number of wards from 9 to 11.

The Commission’s proposals reduce the imbalance in the number of electors per councillor throughout the area.  Three wards have forecast variation from parity of over 10% compared to six wards at present.

The proposals retain one existing ward boundary - An Taobh Siar agus Nis ward.

The proposals retain a further four ward names: Loch a Tuath; Steòrnabhagh a Tuath; Steòrnabhagh a Deas; and Sgìre an Rubha.

The proposals take account of the Islands (Scotland) Act by using the flexibility offered by 1-member and 2-member wards to better reflect local ties. There is a 1-member Barraigh agus Bhatarsaigh ward. This ward has a wide variation from electoral parity but a 2-member Barraigh agus Bhatarsaigh ward would have a wider variation from parity.  There are also 2-member wards in North Uist, Lewis, Harris, the Lochs and Eye Peninsula. 

The proposed ward boundaries aim to: better reflect local communities; follow historical or easily identifiable boundaries; consider special geographic circumstances in rural, sparsely populated areas with limited transport links; and consider local ties in the whole council area.

CNES