The Local Government Boundary Commission for Scotland is seeking the public’s views on new proposals for ward boundaries in the isles.
The Commission have today announced a public consultation, set to run until Monday 2nd December, in order to take into account the views of local communities before final recommendations are put to Scottish Minsters next year.
Under new proposals outlined this week a new Shetland North East ward would be created. The islands of Skerries and Whalsay would be taken from the North Isles ward and join with communities such as Lunnasting and Voe in the new ward.
Voters in the North East ward will be asked to return two members to the council, as will those in the newly shrunk wards of North Isles and Shetland North.
Minor changes are proposed for Lerwick’s two wards, with Lerwick North to be renamed Lerwick North and Bressay.
The overall number of councillors would increase from 22 to 23 with the Shetland South ward gaining an extra member. This was the ward in which no election was held in 2017 because only three candidates stood for three seats.
Shetland West is to have its number of councillors decreased from three to two while Shetland Central is to gain a member if the Commission’s proposals are approved.
The review follows the passing of the Islands (Scotland) Act last year. The bill allows for increased flexibility in island communities, allowing the commission to propose one or two member wards where only three and four member wards were previously permitted.
As well as Shetland the Boundary Commission have also reviewed ward boundaries in Orkney, the Western Isles and three other Scottish Council’s which include inhabited islands within their catchment area – Argyll and Bute, Highland and North Ayrshire.
Final recommendations for the six council areas are to be put to Scottish Ministers by May next year in order to be in place for the next council elections in 2022.
Ronnie Hinds, chairman of the commission, said: “We welcome the flexibility offered by the Islands (Scotland) Act 2018 to use one or two member wards and have used this flexibility in Shetland Islands council area where we propose four 2-member wards in the north and west of the council area.
“It is important that electoral arrangements for Scottish councils are effective and that our proposals deliver on requirements for electoral parity and, as far as possible, take account of local ties and special geographical considerations. Hearing local views on these issues is vitally important as we develop our final recommendations.”
You can give your views here.