Residents in constituencies threatened with “wrecking ball” boundary changes have until Wednesday to make their feelings known, MPs have warned.
The Boundary Commission plans on wiping two of Scotland’s 59 constituencies from the map in a radical shake-up of the country’s electoral borders.
Ochil and South Perthshire will no longer exist, residents in Montrose and Scone would share an MP, Moray would be split between three other constituencies and Arbroath would become part of Dundee East should the commission’s review be implemented in full.
Wales would lose eight MPs, England gain 10 new ones and Norther Ireland is to remain unchanged.
Moray MP and leader of the Scottish Conservatives Douglas Ross is to defy his own government in opposition to the proposals, while the SNP have claimed the reduction would harm the democratic rights of all Scottish voters.
‘Roughshod over Angus’ identity’
Angus SNP MP Dave Doogan said changes to bring in swathes of Perthshire together with Angus and losing historic landmark Arbroath to Dundee would “ride roughshod” over the traditional coastal identity the area has.
“I have many issues with the proposed boundary changes,” he said.
“The Angus constituency is in large part coterminous with the Angus Council area, representing a valuable harmony which should be protected, not destroyed, by any boundary review.
“Moreover, it is not remotely realistic for people in Scone to look to an MP based in Angus as their representative as they will look instead to the MP based in Perth, two miles away.
“A principal identifier for Angus is our coastline, Angus is a coastal county, yet this review seeks to strip the vast majority of the coast from the proposed new Angus boundary including the iconic Arbroath Abbey which is central to the identity of the county.
“This proposed new boundary rides roughshod over Angus’ identity and territory and should be opposed at every opportunity.”
Ross ‘strongly opposed’
Moray representative Douglas Ross said there was strong opposition to the plans to split Moray across the political divide.
He said: “The boundary commission proposals take a wrecking ball to the Moray constituency which is why I strongly oppose their plans and have urged the commission to look again at our area.
“The Moray constituency works well as it matches the Moray Council area, but under these plans it would be split in three and the new seats dealing with both Moray and either Highland or Aberdeenshire council.
“We have seen strong opposition from across the political spectrum to these proposals and I would urge everyone who wants to see the Moray seat retained, preserving the strong local and historical links that have been forged by this seat, to make their views know in the coming days before the consultation closes on Wednesday.”
The Boundary Commission for Scotland will close its consultation on Wednesday December 8.
A response will be published in early 2022, as well as the likelihood of public hearings.
Should the plans be revised in the wake of public feedback, these changed proposals would likely not be available until the end of 2022, the Commission said.
When the changes were unveiled, a A UK Government spokesperson said: “Reforms to Parliamentary boundaries will ensure fair and equal representation for the voting public across the United Kingdom.
“Every constituency will be equally represented in the UK Parliament, with Scotland’s most rural constituencies continuing to receive special protection.”
The consultation can be viewed here.