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"Unbelievably stupid" – Moray councillors slam boundary change proposals


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"BIZARRE, mind-blowing and unbelievably stupid” is how proposals to carve up the Moray UK parliamentary constituency have been described by councillors.

The Boundary Commission for Scotland is carrying out a review of Westminster seats, which includes plans to split Moray in three and make up new constituencies with areas from Aberdeenshire and Highland.

The move has already drawn criticism from Moray's Conservative MP Douglas Ross and SNP MSP Richard Lochhead – and Moray councillors have now voiced their concerns about the area losing its identity.

Almost half of members attending the meeting of the full Moray Council on Wednesday took the opportunity to speak against the boundary changes, including those from all political parties and representatives from independent groups.

There was unanimous agreement for the council to send a response to the commission strongly opposing the changes.

Council leader Graham Leadbitter (SNP, Elgin City South) called the proposals “mind-blowing”.

Moray Council leader Graham Leadbitter. ..The Moray Council meet to set out their 2020 budget. ..Picture: Daniel Forsyth..
Moray Council leader Graham Leadbitter. ..The Moray Council meet to set out their 2020 budget. ..Picture: Daniel Forsyth..

He said: “We are going from one MP covering the region to three, with one area going from Portgordon to Dalwhinnie and the Drumochter Pass. The geography of that is particularly daft.

“This will take away the identity of Moray as a parliamentary constituency and diminish the standing of Moray in terms of how it’s viewed. Moray’s boundaries are fine as they are.”

Mr Leadbitter also criticised the plan to reduce Scotland’s MPs from 59 to 57 as part of the review, adding it was already one of the most unrepresented countries in Europe.

Tim Eagle (Buckie, Conservative) felt the move would be destabilising for the local authority, with smaller communities being lost in larger authorities.

Conservative leader Tim Eagle. ..The Moray Council meet to set out their 2020 budget. ..Picture: Daniel Forsyth..
Conservative leader Tim Eagle. ..The Moray Council meet to set out their 2020 budget. ..Picture: Daniel Forsyth..

He said: “A common MP might not seem like much but having someone who can speak for the whole area, continuing to drive forward those relationships between towns and partnerships will be crucial.

“Opening that up to three MPs, where areas such as Spey Bay start linking with areas like Aviemore, will force another major shift in thinking which will cause significant issues to the Moray Council.

“Community voice in these areas is vital and at present that voice is louder and stronger as part of Moray.”

George Alexander (Independent, Forres) described the proposal as “unbelievable stupidity” but was delighted that the whole council was opposed to the move, while Derek Ross (Independent, Speyside Glenlivet) called them "totally bizarre".

Derek Ross
Derek Ross

He added: “I’ve lived in Moray for 45 years and there have been some stupid ideas that have been put forward in that time, but this must be the most stupid."

The Boundary Commission proposals include putting Buckie and Keith into the Banff and Buchan constituency along with the Aberdeenshire communities of Aberchirder, Fraserburgh, Maud, Mintlaw, Peterhead.

Dallas, Rothes, Aberlour, Dufftown and Tomintoul in Moray could join Ellon, Huntly, Turriff, Insch, Inverurie, Kintore and Old Meldrum to form Gordon and Moray South.

The proposed Highland East and Elgin constituency could be made up of Badenoch and Strathspey, Nairn, Forres and Lossiemouth as well as Elgin.

The consultation on the review of the UK parlimentary constituencies will run until the beginning of December. Comments can be made via www.bcs2023review.com.


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