‘Councillors would be faced with an impossible task’

Ward boundary proposals for Bute.
Ward boundary proposals for Bute.

Island councillor and Provost of Argyll and Bute, Len Scoullar, has written to the First Minister to voice his concerns over recommendations which would see Bute and Cowal merged into one council ward.

Cllr Scoullar’s letter - which can be read on pages 14-15 - is in response to the Boundary Commission of Scotland’s recommendation to merge Bute with Cowal to form one ward, with four councillors representing the area.

Cllr Scoullar told The Buteman: “It is my opinion that elected councilors from Bute would be unable to properly represent their ward residents as travelling to meetings and returning home would be severely limited by both distance, which is substantial, and also the restriction caused by the last ferry sailing at Colintraive. This would also be the problem for elected councillors from the mainland attending meetings on Bute.

“I would imagine that the costs to the council would be extortionate if a member attended eight community councils per month with, let us say, accommodation about £40 per night and hundreds of miles at 45p a mile.

“I for one have never charged the council for my mileage on Bute but would have to consider the cost to me of such on the mainland if I were re-elected.”

Cllr Scoullar presented a motion at Bute and Cowal’s Area Committee meeting in Dunoon today (Tuesday, June 7) to ask the council to raise an objection to the proposals the Boundary Commission has made. “I must stress that it is not the proposed reduction in councillor numbers that is the problem but the impossible responsibilities which would be imposed on anyone trying to do their duty as an elected councillor if these recommendations for all of Argyll and Bute are allowed to be implemented,” Cllr Scoullar continued. “It would also be the case that it would cost the council a substantial increase in expenses in a time of imposed Scottish Government cuts on council funding.”