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Local Government, Housing and Planning Committee

Boundaries Scotland Changes - Highlands - 27 September 2021

Letter from Edward Mountain MSP to the Convener - 27 September 2021

Dear Convener,

As you will be aware, communities across the Highlands and Islands are keeping a close eye on the Local Government, Housing and Planning Committee’s evidence sessions on the proposals made by Boundaries Scotland.

I wish to make the Committee aware that since these proposals were announced a number of constituents have contacted me to express their concerns about the negative impact these changes could have on local democracy.

In particular, some residents living in one of the council wards affected, Aird and Loch Ness, feel that the proposed alternative, Inverness South West, will lead to an under-representation of the rural interests of their community given the inclusion of urban and semi-urban areas from the Ness-side ward.

Furthermore, some local residents of the Aird and Loch Ness ward expressed these concerns to Boundaries Scotland but feel that these have been dismissed unfairly in the resultant report. For example, Boundaries Scotland stated in their report to Scottish Ministers that:

“71. In Aird and Loch Ness, while a number of respondents preferred the status quo there were no compelling arguments that persuaded us that we should revert to the existing boundaries with the consequential impacts for ward design in other parts of the council area.”

I feel that there is a real danger that the proposals put forward by Boundaries Scotland do not have the full backing of the local communities they impact and have the potential to reduce representation in the Highlands.

I would therefore ask that all Committee members give serious consideration to the points that Highland communities have raised with me and that I have highlighted in this letter during your forthcoming evidence sessions.

Kind regards,
Edward Mountain

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