East Lothian Council

Boundary Commission changes still unacceptable

Published Wednesday 5th August 15

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East Lothian Council will continue to oppose proposed changes by the Local Government Boundary Commission for Scotland, which have now gone out for statutory public consultation.

The commission had proposed to reduce the number of East Lothian councillors from 23 to 21. This has now been changed to 22 councillors and plans to move Macmerry into the Preston / Seton / Gosford ward have been scrapped.

However, the level of opposition to any changes in the number of councillors in East Lothian, and changes to wards, was made clear by the number of responses received by the commission by East Lothian residents when its initial plans went out for consultation – more responses were received from East Lothian than from any other area. 

Council Leader Willie Innes said:

“It is abundantly clear that the people of East Lothian do not want these changes and do not see a need for them, so East Lothian Council intends to continue to oppose them.

“There is no justification to cut councillor numbers in East Lothian at a time when our population is set to continue increasing at the fourth highest rate of any area in Scotland.

“Meanwhile, fresh proposals brought forward by the commission including moving Wallyford and Whitecraig into the Fa’side ward and moving Ormiston into the Haddington and Lammermuir ward make no sense as they go against the natural ties of these communities and ignore school catchment areas.”

Potential costs to East Lothian Council if the Boundary Commission changes were to go ahead include those involved in; changing the electoral registers, redrawing maps, re-establishing three new Area Partnerships and potentially being represented at a public inquiry.

Councillor Innes added:

“Our councillors already have a heavy workload and that is only going to increase with the number of new homes planned for East Lothian and the proposed ward boundary changes would cause an unfair split in that workload – for example the four Musselburgh councillors would have one community council and one secondary school; the four Tranent councillors would have four community councils and two secondary schools; the four Haddington and Lammermuir councillors would have six community councils and two secondary schools.

"Added to this, the commission stated that it was taking into account areas of high deprivation in drawing up these proposed new boundaries. By moving Wallyford and Whitecraig into the Fa’side ward, which already has the highest levels of deprivation (measured by factors such as unemployment, health inequality and crime) they are moving two areas with relatively high levels of deprivation into this ward, while moving out Ormiston and Pencaitland, which have relatively low deprivation levels. This creates a huge imbalance and could potentially massively increase the workload of the Fa’side councillors. I would urge East Lothian community groups and residents to get involved in the consultation and make their views known.”

To view the Boundary Commission’s proposals for East Lothian and to take part in the consultation, visit http://www.lgbc-scotland.gov.uk/reviews/5th_electoral/east_lothian/

The consultation closes on 22 October 2015. 

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