Scots council election changes consultation begins

A PUBLIC consultation on plans to change the number of elected politicians on Scotland’s councils gets underway today.

Edinburgh City Chambers. Five extra councillors would be elected to Edinburgh City Council under the proposals. Picture: TSPL

The Local Government Boundary Commission for Scotland is proposing changes that would see fewer elected representatives on 15 of the country’s 32 councils. The Commission is calling for 11 areas to have more councillors than at present, and for numbers to stay the same on six.

For the first time the number of councillors the Commission is recommending takes into account levels of deprivation in an area, as well as its population.

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It is proposed that Scotland’s largest local authority, Glasgow City Council, should have 85 councillors instead of its current tally of 79, while Edinburgh City Council should gain an extra five councillors to take its total to 63.

Under the proposals, North Lanarkshire could get seven more councillors, with the Commission suggesting it should have 77 elected members.

It has also proposed that Highland Council should have 72 councillors, eight fewer than the authority has at the moment.

The Commission last reviewed the arrangements for local government in 2006 following the introduction of multi-member wards for councils across Scotland. But the last time it examined the number of elected members on each council was in 1996.

Ronnie Hinds, chair of the Commission, said: “There have been many changes in Scotland since our last reviews, and it is important that electoral arrangements for Scottish councils take account of those changes as part of ensuring effective local democracy.

“We have been encouraged by the discussions we have held with councils on these proposals and look forward to hearing the views of the public over the next 12 weeks.”

A review of the number of wards on each council and the boundaries for these is due to be carried out by the Commission in 2015.

It then expects to make recommendations to Scottish ministers on this the following year, and the changes could be in place for the local government elections in May 2017.