There were six constituencies at the last crofting election. These were decided on following consultation prior to the election and based on the boundary model that received most support.
In considering the most appropriate boundary model for the forthcoming election the Scottish Government has used data from the Register of Crofts in order to make the number of crofts in the six constituencies more equal.
Three options for the 2017 election are proposed. Option 1 reflects the status quo. Options 2 and 3 are alternative models based on number of crofts and geographical accessiblity of different areas.
The consultation contained three maps detailing numbers of crofts and crofters in each constituency to illustrate the options proposed.
Question 1: Please indicate whether you prefer option 1, option 2 or option 3 as the way to divide the crofting counties into 6 constituencies.
14 respondents provided a preference for one of the options proposed. Of these, 11 preferred option 2; three preferred option 1; and option 3 was not preferred by any respondent.
Eight of the individual respondents preferred option 2, with two preferring option 1. Of the organisations, three preferred option 2 with one (National Farmers' Union Scotland) indicating their preference for option 1.
Suggestions for further options
Comhairle nan Eilean Siar did not choose any one option over others, but instead proposed a fourth option in which the Outer Hebrides have two Commissioners but the Northen Isles also retain two Commissioners. Their rationale for this fourth option was based largely on their concerns regarding the challenge of travel to and from the Shetland Isles including the cost implications.
One individual respondent, whilst indicating a preference for option 2, proposed that Harris joins the Uist and Barra consistuency, due to its historical and cultural connections with these islands. Another individual respondent agreed that Harris could usefully join Uist and Barra in order to balance the number of crofts and crofters across consistuencies in the Outer Hebrides. This respondent also suggested separating Skye from Ross-Shire due to having quite different crofting issues and differences in land type, population and remoteness. They proposed consideration of having Rosshire as part of the Inverness/Argyll area and perhaps Lochaber in with Skye.
The Scottish Crofting Federation also indicated a preference for option 2 out of the three options tabled, but suggested that more options could be considered and more consitutencies drawn up. They agreed that further options could include separating Skye from Ross-Shire, separating Shetland from Orkney, and regrouping Harris with Uist and Barra.
Benefits and drawbacks of the proposed options
Respondents provided views on the benefits and drawbacks of the options and these are summarized in Table 3.1.
Table 3.1: Summary of views on the benefits and drawbacks of the different options.
|Option||Summary of Benefits||Summary of Drawbacks|
Question 2: Please set out any other comments in relation to constituencies.
Two substantive comments were made relating to constituencies by three respondents. Two individual respondents both highlighted that Commissioners, however elected, have a remit to work for the good of all of the crofting community and not just their respective constituency areas:
"It is important for the candidates and voters to understand they are not being elected as representatives for the area but will contribute to the overall management of the Commission and application of the legislation."
The other respondent (an individual) considered this to be a good time to break up the constituencies even further to produce smaller areas.
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