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Moray will be divided at next general election, despite local pleas

By Lewis McBlane

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A FIGHT to stop Moray being split in two at the next general election has failed, after final borders were announced.

Douglas Ross (inset) is disappointed that efforts to stop Moray's UK constituency being broken up have failed.
Douglas Ross (inset) is disappointed that efforts to stop Moray's UK constituency being broken up have failed.

The Boundary Commission for Scotland yesterday (June 28) published its final plans for constituencies at the next general election, which will carve up Moray in spite of local objections.

Under the plans, the current Moray constituency – identical to Moray Council's borders and similar to the Scottish Parliament constituency – will be divided between Aberdeenshire North and Moray East, and Moray West, Nairn and Strathspey.

This means Forres and Elgin will share an MP with Dalwhinnie, over 70 miles away, while Buckie and Keith will have a different MP.

Moray's eastern towns will share a constituency with Fraserburgh and Peterhead.

In their final report on boundary changes, The Boundary Commission – which previously planned to split Moray in three – said: "We were unable to find a way to avoid dividing Moray because of the electorate numbers in surrounding areas."

The plans had been roundly criticised by Moray MP Douglas Ross and Moray MSP Richard Lochhead, as well as Moray Council and the local Labour group.

They are set to take effect at the next general election in 2025.

Mr Ross, who will become the last MP to represent Moray at Westminster, expressed his “major disappointment” at Moray losing its united constituency and said “historic local links” will be lost.

He also shared his frustration that his previous council ward Fochabers Lhanbryde will also be broken up.

And, despite “fighting the plans every step of the way”, he said the UK Parliament must now accept the final boundary proposals.

“I am deeply disappointed at the confirmation that the historic Moray constituency has been carved up into two ahead of the next General Election," Mr Ross said.

“I had fought these proposals every step of the way and still firmly believe that Moray is best served by one MP serving all our communities.

“A whole host of historic links and critical identity will be lost as a result of people in Moray now being represented by two different MPs, rather than mirroring the council boundary.

“I am also very disappointed that my old council ward of Fochabers-Lhanbryde will be split up as a result of even further changes by the Boundary Commission.

“Even though I’m stepping down as Moray’s MP at the next election, I very much wanted this seat to remain in place.

“Ultimately that decision has been taken by the Commission and that now has to be accepted by Parliament.

"I just feel it is a disappointing day with the confirmation that I will be the last MP to represent the Moray constituency in the House of Commons.”

Moray MSP Richard Lochhead said: “It’s deeply disappointing that plans to break up the Moray Westminster have been given the green light as part of a plan to reduce the number of Scottish MPs overall.

“Feedback from constituents make it clear they are strongly opposed to the new boundaries, given the Moray seat mirrors the local authority and reflects what people here to consider to be our local community.

“These changes will be of no benefit to people in Moray and I strongly believe our constituency being carved up is absolutely the wrong move.

“All of that being said, the decision has been made and the SNP will now fight tooth and nail to win both seats that include parts of Moray.”

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