Jo has submitted objections to the proposed Scottish Parliament boundary changes as part of the Boundary Commission’s public consultation.
The Boundary Commission published revised proposals last month for new constituency boundaries. Unlike the original proposals which would have created a new “Milngavie and Bishopbriggs” constituency, the revised proposals look very similar to the current arrangement, with Strathkelvin & Bearsden still forming one constituency and Clydebank and Milngavie forming another.
Jo criticises the new proposals for cutting Bearsden in two, and separating Milngavie and Bearsden which form a natural community. No objections were raised to the proposal to join Milngavie, Bearsden and Bishopbriggs together in one constituency, and so Jo questions why this idea was scrapped despite not being challenged in the public inquiry.
Commenting, Jo said:
“Putting a boundary through the middle of Bearsden divides the town in a very artificial manner, and separating Bearsden and Milngavie clearly goes against the public’s wishes.
“The proposal for a ‘Milngavie and Bishopbriggs’ constituency, which only needed Bearsden adding to the name, was not discussed as part of the public inquiry, so it is surprising and disappointing that the Boundary Commission has decided to change it. I hope the Commission will review this proposal before a final decision is made.”
The text of Jo Swinson’s submission to the Boundary Commission appears below:
Boundary Commision for Scotland,
3 Drumsheugh Gardens,
21st June 2009
First periodic review of Scottish Parliament boundaries Milngavie and Bishopbriggs/Strathkelvin and Bearsden
I wish to appeal against the revised proposals of the Boundary Commission in relation to the above constituencies, which fall partly within my Westminster Parliamentary constituency of East Dunbartonshire.
I believe the revised constituency boundaries as put forward last year were a natural fit for the communities, particularly Milngavie and Bearsden which have many historical links and are now also linked in both the local authority and Westminster constituency. This is demonstrated by the fact that there was no substantive objection to the Milngavie and Bishopbriggs boundary prior to the Public Local Inquiry. Where communities feel a sense of shared identity, any separation imposed by constituency boundaries is artificial, and should be avoided if at all possible. The people of Milngavie and Bearsden have many common concerns, and it therefore makes sense that they should be represented by a single MSP.
I am concerned that the new proposals divide the community of Bearsden in half, putting most of Bearsden town centre and the whole of Bearsden North ward into the new Clydebank and Milngavie constituency, leaving the southern part of Bearsden in the new Strathkelvin and Bearsden constituency. Even the name of this constituency is misleading. I often find residents of East Dunbartonshire Council area who actually live outwith my East Dunbartonshire constituency approach me for assistance. This leads to confusion and delay in individuals receiving the help they require. I can predict similar problems with the boundaries as now proposed, as residents of Bearsden North could easily assume they were in the Strathkelvin & Bearsden constituency.
It also makes sense for the boundaries to run through open countryside, rather than cut through towns. This helps people understand more readily which constituency they are in, and meets the test of keeping communities together. The previous proposal of Milngavie and Bishopbriggs had very clear boundaries which did not cut through towns. Unsurprisingly, this was a popular move, and no objections were raised to that constituency.
None of the points in favour of the Milngavie and Bishopbriggs constituency were heard at the Public Local Inquiry, as comments regarding that constituency were specifically excluded from the Inquiry criteria. Indeed, the reason why the Milngavie and Bishopbriggs constituency was not discussed was because no complaints had been received about it except regarding the name, which further suggests that this arrangement was the one most acceptable to the local community. If this constituency was not part of the public inquiry process then it should not have been changed. I believe this is a prima facie breach of natural justice and I would urge the Commission to review these issues in light of this. I am confident that such a review would reinforce the case for reinstating the original constituency boundaries for Milngavie and Bishopbriggs.
Please do not hesitate to contact me should you wish to discuss any aspect of this submission.
Jo Swinson MP
- View maps of the current Scottish Parliament boundaries
- View the Boundary Commission’s revised proposals