Plea not to ‘break ties’ with Midlothian amid Parliamentary boundary change proposal

Friday May 26th 2023

Scottish-Borders-Council


Written by Local Democracy Reporter, Paul Kelly

A planned Parliamentary boundary change would damage the historic and geographical links between the Scottish Borders and Midlothian, councillors have been warned.

Boundaries Scotland has published its provisional proposals for new constituency boundaries for the Scottish Parliament and opened a one month public consultation, running until Saturday, June 17.

One proposal is to replace the Midlothian South, Tweeddale & Lauderdale County Constituency with a Clyde Valley & Tweeddale County Constituency, comprising of wards within Scottish Borders Council and South Lanarkshire Council.

It’s a move which alarms Galashiels & District councillor Fay Sinclair who put a motion before a meeting of Scottish Borders Council yesterday calling on members to agree to formally object to the move.

She said: “The current Midlothian South, Tweeddale and Lauderdale constituency is linked through numerous public transport routes.

“Borders buses operate up the A7, A68 and A72, linking the Borders to Midlothian. Even travelling by car, options are limited across the proposed new constituency.

“The current MSP’s constituency office is sited in central Galashiels, which has extensive transport links to the different parts of the constituency, whereas the current MSP for Clydesdale has an office in Lanark where travel to Galashiels would require three separate buses and a journey time well over two hours, therefore limiting constituents access to their MSP.

“The proposed new constituency covers a huge geographical area, meaning connections are more difficult and travel time by MSPs to various parts of the constituency would be greatly increased and people therefore less well represented.

“NHS services co-ordinate and co-operate across Scottish Borders and Lothian, as do other bodies, including City Deal, SESTran, South East Improvement Collaborative.

“An alternative proposal would be to move part of ward 5 (Oxton, Lauder, Blainslie and Earlston polling districts) into th Ettrick, Roxburgh and Berwickshire constituency, bringing the total electorate closer to the quota of 59,902 at a revised total of 59,676 electors.

“This would leave the rest of the Midlothian South, Tweeddale and Lauderdale constituency with a reduction from 65,033 to 60,4888. This would maintain the historic and geographical, connectivity and other benefits and connections between the Scottish Borders and Midlothian and create constituencies with broadly the same number of electors”.

Councillor Sinclair accepted to an amendment to her motion, from Leaderdale & Melrose councillor David Parker.

It agreed that instead of making an immediate objection to the proposal, SBC “agrees to delegate authority to the council’s chief executive to make a submission to Boundaries Scotland, in consultation with the members Sounding Board, where all issues and options will be discussed.”

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