Last chance to have your say on Islands Bill proposals

The Scottish Government's Islands Bill proposals would ensure Bute's councillors only represent the island - but the Boundary Commission already wants to lump Bute in with Cowal from 2017 onwards. This view shows the north end of Bute and the south Cowal hills, with the Kyles in between. (Pic - buteforest.com)
The Scottish Government's Islands Bill proposals would ensure Bute's councillors only represent the island - but the Boundary Commission already wants to lump Bute in with Cowal from 2017 onwards. This view shows the north end of Bute and the south Cowal hills, with the Kyles in between. (Pic - buteforest.com)

The deadline is looming for public comments on proposals by the Scottish Government to give island communities a greater say in their own affairs.

Wednesday, December 23 is the last date to have your say in the consultation on proposals for a future Islands Bill.

Among the subjects the Scottish Government wants the public’s views on is a suggestion that in future island communities should have their own dedicated councillors, rather than ones who represent a ward also including the mainland.

But as we’ve previously reported, that proposal flies in the face of a recommendation from the Boundary Commission that from 2017 onwards, Bute should form part of an enlarged Argyll and Bute Council ward that also takes in Colintraive, Glendaruel, Tighnabruaich, Kames - and in fact all of west Cowal to a point just south of Strachur.

The Islands Bill consultation says that any ‘island-only’ council wards would not take effect in time to thwart the Boundary Commission’s proposals - and with the next Scottish local government boundary review not due until 2027, it would be at least 11 years before any ‘island-only councillor’ policy takes effect.

The consultation suggests giving the Local Government Boundary Commission for Scotland power to create island-only councillors by varying the number of councillors in multi-member wards (currently set at either three, as in Bute’s case, or four).

But in its own response to the consultation, Argyll and Bute Council says that instead, councils themselves should be allowed to vary the ratio of councillors to voters, “so that an island ward, for example Bute, could have three councillors with only 5,000 electors rather than the 6,000 electors required in mainland wards”.

To take part in the consultation exercise, click here.