Lib Dem candidate hits out at Bute boundary plans

Alan Reid is the Liberal Democrats' candidate for Argyll and Bute in the 2016 Scottish Parliament elections.
Alan Reid is the Liberal Democrats' candidate for Argyll and Bute in the 2016 Scottish Parliament elections.

The Liberal Democrats’ Holyrood candidate for Argyll and Bute says the new ward boundary proposals for the local council are “the most ridiculous he has ever seen”.

Alan Reid, in a submission to the Local Government Boundary Commission for Scotland, says the proposals risk splitting up some communities while combining others with no natural connection to each other.

One of the areas Mr Reid, who was the Westminster MP for Argyll and Bute until May of this year, has criticised is the one highlighted on numerous occasions by The Buteman in recent months - namely the Commission’s proposal to combine Bute with a large part of west Cowal in a single ward from 2017 onwards.

In his response to the Commission’s call for public views, Mr Reid said: “These proposals are the most ridiculous I have ever seen from a Boundary Commission.

“I objected last year to the cut in councillors from 36 to 33. These proposals are the inevitable outcome of your decision to reject the advice of the then MP, one of the local constituency MSPs and the council.

“The proposed wards are far too big, split natural communities and put in the same ward communities with no connection to one other.

“There are too many faults to list them all.”

Other areas in which the Commission’s proposals have attracted Mr Reid’s ire include:

* Combining Kilmun, Strachur and the Rosneath peninsula in the same ward;

* Combining Bridge of Orchy, Luing and Lochgilphead in the same ward;

* Splitting the nearby towns of Lochgilphead and Ardrishaig, and including the latter in the Kintyre and the Islands ward;

* Moving parts of Helensburgh Central into the Helensburgh and Lomond South ward, while moving other areas in the opposite direction.

“The only solution,” Mr Reid said, “is to reverse last year’s bad decision to reduce ward numbers and start again with 36 councillors.”

The final say on the Commission’s proposals rests with the Scottish Government, to whom the Commission is expected to submit its final recommendations by May 2016.

By then, though, the government will also have completed a consultation exercise on its proposed Islands Bill - which, among much else, asks people for their views on whether island communities should have their own dedicated councillor, something which, in the case of Bute, the Boundary Commission’s proposals would explicitly stop.