Bute to be wiped off electoral map?

BUTE could disappear from the electoral map - in name at least - if some councillors at Argyll and Bute Council get their way.

A proposal to enlarge the Argyll and Bute constituency by taking in parts of Lochaber, and to rename it as Argyll, Bute and South Lochaber, was put before councillors this week as part of a review by the Boundary Commission.

But Helensburgh councillor Gary Mulvaney proposed that the constituency be re-named Argyll and the Isles – and it’s this suggestion which will be sent to the Commission.

A spokesperson for Argyll and Bute Council said: “As part of a review of all parliamentary constituencies, the Boundary Commission is proposing changes which would see the new, bigger constituency renamed as Argyll, Bute and South Lochaber.

“The new area would encompass the existing local authority area and extend north to Loch Eil, taking in Caol, Acharacle, Lochaline, Kinlochleven and Fort William.

“When councillors met on Thursday, October 25, they reviewed the information provided by the Boundary Commission, offering ‘Argyll and the Isles’ as a suggested alternative.”

Councillor Robert Macintyre told The Buteman that the ‘Argyll and the Isles’ suggestion, put forward by Cllr Mulvaney (Conservative) and seconded by Ellen Morton (Lib Dem) had received 16 votes.

‘Earra Gaidheal’, the Gaelic name for Argyll, proposed by Robin Currie (Lib Dem) and seconded by Mary-Jean Devon (SNP) got five votes, and ‘Earra Gaidheal agus Bhoid’ (Argyll and Bute), proposed by Dick Walsh (Independent) and seconded by Louise Glen-Lee (Conservative), got four votes.

“I think [the new constituency] should be called Argyll, Bute and South Lochaber,” Cllr Macintyre said, “but as this matter was agenda 24 on a 28-item agenda, I had to leave the meeting at 4.45pm as I was committed to attending a Bute NFU meeting with Mount Stuart Trust on Thursday night.

“Obviously there was a cross party difference of opinion regarding the new name, but as we are taking in Fort William, Ballachulish, Kinlochleven and other communities, I think it is only right that this significant section of Inverness-shire should be represented in the name.”

Independent Bute councillor Len Scoullar - the only Bute representative present when the topic was discussed on Thursday - said: “I tried to explain that the reason Bute had been part of the council name was because until local government in Scotland was reorganised in 1975, it had been a county council in its own right.

“My protests fell on deaf ears, and I was stunned at the result - which, in my view could have a very negative effect on Bute and it’s economy, as I had explained to the council.

Grace Strong, chair of Bute Community Council, told The Buteman: “It could have quite a big impact and could be very detrimental to the island, especially with regard to tourism. I’d worry that we’re just going to fade into insignificance.”

The closing date for submissions to the Boundary Commission is this Wednesday, November 7 - you can email comments@scottishboundaries.gov.uk or write to The Boundary Commission for Scotland, Thistle House, 91 Haymarket Terrace ,Edinburgh EH12 5HD.

* What do you think of the proposal to wipe Bute’s name off the Westminster electoral map? Let us know your views - email news@buteman.com or write to the address on page 4, where you’ll read the views of Bute’s three councillors in more detail.