A few weeks ago I wrote to your newspaper on the subject of the proposed changes to the local boundaries and pointed out then that everyone in town and country should be taking this seriously.
At the same time I also wrote to the Local Government Boundary Commission. Since then I have received a detailed reply advising my letter will be kept on file and that I am not precluded from further submission to the commission during the public consultation between July and October this year. I sent copies of my letter to the Commission to all our Hawick councillors asking them to act together to bring forward alternatives at Scottish Borders Council.
I will repeat what I said in my previous letter that this is all about numbers. The commisson’s aim is to standardise the number of constituents represented by one councillor, and over the whole of Scotland propose to reduce the number of wards by two and the number of councillors by six.
The methodology for this places council areas in one of five categories dependent upon the proportion of its population living outwith settlements of 3,000 or more people and the proportion of its population living in Scotland’s 15 per cent most deprived areas.
Scottish Borders Council area is in category 4 and the ration of electors per councillor is 2,800 which results in a proposed council size of 32 councillors.
It will be noted that SBC’s proposal of a reduction of councillors from 34 to 32 and the reduction from six to four Hawick councillors means that Hawick and Denholm and Hawick and Hermitage are the two wards losing representation.
If, like me, you research the numbers you will see that they do not add up. I would pose the question: why should Hawick’s two wards be subject to change when the status quo remains in the other nine Scottish Borders wards?
If members of the public are as concerned as I am about the ongoing representation of our region, then I urge them to write to The Chair of the Local Government Boundary Commission, Thistle House, 91 Haymarket Terrace, Edinburgh EH2 5HD.
I know Councillors Watson McAteer and Stuart Marshall have met with Paul Wheelhouse MSP, one of the ministers who will ultimately receive the commission’s recommendations, but I feel the commision would appreciate public consultation.