"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.
Forres would join the Highland East and Elgin constituency under the plans, alongside Nairn and Lossiemouth.
Dallas would join fellow Moray towns Rothes, Aberlour, Dufftown and Tomintoul in the 'Gordon and Moray South' constituency alongside Ellon, Huntly, Turriff, Insch and Inverurie.
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, November 10, 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”.
He said: “We are going from one MP covering the region to three. 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.
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".
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 consultation on the review of the UK parlimentary constituencies will run until the beginning of December. Comments can be made via www.bcs2023review.com.