Have your say on plans to scrap Bute-only councillors

Proposed new ward boundaries for Argyll and Bute would lump Bute in with all of west Cowal to the south of Strachur.
Proposed new ward boundaries for Argyll and Bute would lump Bute in with all of west Cowal to the south of Strachur.

Members of the public on Bute are being urged to have their say on plans to bring an end to the days of the island having its own dedicated councillors.

The Local Government Boundary Commission for Scotland wants to know what people think of plans to slash the number of councillors across Scotland - and, among much else, to lump Bute in with a huge chunk of the western part of Cowal.

If the Commission’s proposals get the green light, from 2017 onwards the three councillors for Bute will also represent Colintraive, Glendaruel, Tighnabruaich, Kames, Portavadie, Otter Ferry and indeed the whole of west Cowal until a point just south of Strachur - in a ward which, oddly, would be renamed simply ‘Bute’.

When we revealed the proposals last month, Rothesay resident Peter Wallace, who stood as a Conservative candidate in the last two council elections, warned that the plan would greatly increase the workload of anyone standing as a candidate at the next poll in two years’ time.

The plans would see the number of councillors in Argyll and Bute as a whole reduced from 36 to 33.

The Commission says its proposal for Bute is driven by a desire to “address forecast disparities” on the island - the disparity in question being the growing gap between the number of councillors and the number of voters.

Argyll and Bute Council itself has already voiced opposition to the proposals for the area as a whole, though the authority has made no comment on the implications for Bute in particular, beyond a general observation that “linking of the island of Bute with the mainland will increase the necessity to travel to and from the island”.

In the council’s response to the proposals, Charles Reppke, the authority’s head of governance and law, says: “There is significant concern at the impact these proposals will have on existing communities which will see a number of major changes to the current arrangements, which will lead to the break-up of existing community connections and cohesion and which the council believes very strongly will be the subject of much public outcry and concern.

“The council believes that the proposals will not be well received by those communities that will be adversely affected by the proposed changes and this reaction is likely to be widespread given that all but one of the existing council wards have been altered.”

The 12-week public consultation period runs until Thursday, October 22; to view the proposals in full and to have your say, click here.