West Side concerns over proposed boundary changes

West Side councillors have voiced their concerns over boundary commission changes that would reduce the number of representatives in their ward.

Proposals would see one fewer Shetland West councillor, down to two from the current three.

West Side member Theo Smith said the workload for the remaining two councillors would be too much, adding that it verged on “unfair”.

Fellow west councillor Catherine Hughson said people she had spoken to in the ward were “extremely opposed to any change” and agreed that the two leftover councillors would not be able to cover the area.

Council leader and the third west member Steven Coutts stressed that this was a consultation, and that ultimately “parity is key here”. 

The ward would also shrink on the map, while Shetland Central would grow and gain another councillor, which the central councillors were, perhaps unsurprisingly, not against.

The proposed changes were discussed at an SIC meeting on Wednesday, following months of consultation with the commission.

Other councillors stressed that they did not want to speak for West Side members on the issue, but largely agreed that relative parity needed to be maintained going forward.

The changes have been proposed to maintain parity, reflecting how the isles electorate is expected to change by 2023, with some areas increasing in size while others shrink.

Other proposals to move Gulberwick to the Shetland South ward were met largely with agreement at the meeting.

Comments from the debate will be taken forward to the boundary commission, who ultimately have the power to decide on how the electoral layout in the isles will change.

• More on the meeting in Friday’s The Shetland Times.


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