Calls for name changes for new Scottish election seats

Thursday June 29th 2023

Scottish-Parliament-2021


Written by Local Democracy Reporter, Marie Sharp

Midlothian councillors are calling for new Scottish Parliament constituencies to be renamed amid claims they will confuse residents and make no sense.

Plans to change the boundary for the current Midlothian North and Musselburgh seat would see a large chunk of the county moved out of it and into a newly named Midlothian South seat.

The proposal from the Boundary Commission for Scotland aims to create a more equal number of voters in each parliamentary seat.

However a meeting of councillors this week raised concerns about retaining the Midlothian North and Musselburgh name when only Dalkeith remained in it.

And they called for the new Midlothian South seat to have a name change which reflected that it would now include residents living north of the county as well.

Under the new changes Midlothian North and Musselburgh would be made up of 11,000 eligible Dalkeith voters, more than 29,000 East Lothian voters and and over 14,000 voters living in Portobello and east of Edinburgh.

Previously it had included Bonnyrigg, Loanhead and part of Midlothian west ward were in the seat along with the west of Musselburgh.

Councillor Colin Cassidy, who represents Dalkeith ward, said of the proposed changes: “It is an ill thought out plan which has confused people and which just looks preposterous to me.”

And Councillor Derek Milligan said: “Calling it Midlothian North with only the Dalkeith boundary in it is rather confusing.”

Council leader Kelly Parry asked elected members if they wanted to make a formal objection to the changes which would lead to a local inquiry being held before it could go forward.

However Councillor Peter Smaill questioned whether this was necessary and what an inquiry would cost.

A suggestion by Councillor Milligan that the council instead send their comments to the commission suggesting they change the name of the Midlothian North seat was agreed along with a call for a rethink of the remaining Midlothian South name.

Councillor Bryan Pottinger said: “I don’t think it is appropriate to have it as Midlothian South as it does go up to Straiton and the north east, west and south, so it is Midlothian in all things bar the prominent market town of Dalkeith where our headquarters are.”

Councillors were told that including Dalkeith in with the rest of Midlothian would push the number of elected voters in the seat to more than 74,000 when the quota the review was aiming for was around 59,000 in each seat so it would be the biggest in Scotland.

Officers were asked to feed the views of councillors back to the review.

You can read the paper presented to the full Midlothian Council HERE.

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