There has been a groundswell of opposition against a review of boundaries in Scotland that could see Banchory move into a different constituency from other Deeside communities.
The comments received during the Boundary Commission for Scotland’s public consultation on its Initial Proposals for UK Parliament constituencies were published today for a 4-week period of public scrutiny and further comment.
More than 220 submissions have been made to the Boundary Commission to keep Banchory within the Deeside and Gordon constituency.
Recommendations in the Boundary Commission Review for Scotland would incorporate Banchory within a new Kincardine and Angus East constituency.
Other Deeside towns, including Aboyne, Ballater and Braemar, would remain in the Deeside and Gordon area, however.
Scottish Conservative MSP for Aberdeenshire West, Alexander Burnett, has been campaigning to ‘Keep Banchory in Deeside’.
Whereas Mike Rumbles MSP believes the The Boundary Commission for Scotland has made “quite reasonable” suggestions to constituency boundaries in the North-east.
Mr Burnett said: “The level of submissions represents 10 per cent of the total made for the whole of the UK, with 222 people taking the time to write in.
“I think that illustrates the strength of feeling about this proposed change.
“I think the vast majority of residents locally would agree that Banchory cannot be removed from Deeside.
“There are long historic links, not to mention similarities in terms of the issues facing the region.
“I think people in Banchory feel connected to those in neighbouring towns.
“To separate Banchory from other Aberdeenshire settlements of Aboyne, Braemar and Ballater simply does not add up.
“And while it may be in name only, there is a risk that there could be a negative impact to the local economy and tourism sector from removing Banchory from Deeside, as it were.
“Hopefully we will now see a change of direction, however, given the clear views expressed by so many people.”
Mike Rumbles MSP congratulated the Boundary Commission for Scotland for their “impartial and fair review” of UK constituencies in the North-east of Scotland.
He said: “The Boundary Commission for Scotland have made some quite reasonable suggestions for changes to our constituency boundaries in the North-east.
“Their current proposals for the review better reflect the historic connections of communities than the current boundaries.
“In truth there will be virtually no effect on the day to day lives of constituents, their ties to surrounding communities will remain the same as will the way they are represented in the House of Commons.
“Any suggestion otherwise is quite frankly ludicrous”.
Mr Rumbles questioned whether other constituents would be removed from the Deeside and Gordon constituency if the 8500 extra voters from Banchory were included.
The 2018 review of UK Parliamentary constituencies is required by the Parliamentary Constituencies Act 1986. It is being conducted simultaneously by the four Boundary Commissions in Scotland, England, Northern Ireland and Wales.
Across the UK, the number of constituencies is being reduced from 650 to 600 and In Scotland there will be a decrease from 59 to 53 constituencies.
Isabel Drummond-Murray, secretary to the Commission, said: “We are very grateful for the response to the consultation on the Commission’s Initial Proposals, with around 1500 written submissions sent to us and further views presented at the 5 public hearings held last year.
“This secondary consultation period enables members of the public to consider the comments and alternative designs which we have received to date and to offer views on these.
“This will be a very useful process to help us understand the strengths and weaknesses of the different arguments that have been put to us.”
The comments are available to view on the Commission’s interactive portal at www.bcs2018.org.uk where members of the public and other interested parties can read all the comments received during the initial public consultation and comment on them until March 27.
After the secondary consultation period, the Commission will consider all the information that has been submitted, and expects to consult on any revised proposals for constituencies later this year.
It will then develop final recommendations which it will submit in a report to the Secretary of State in September 2018.