A reduction in Isles’ councillors is on the cards

editorial image

Plans to reduce the number of councillors on Comhairle nan Eilean Siar was considered last week with elected members briefed on the progress so far.

Currently 31 councillors line the Comhairle chamber, around one councillor per 750 electors, but it is suggested that this be reduced to one per 1,000 electors. This would see the number of councillors fall to 26, five less than now.

The Local Government Boundary Commission for Scotland is responsible for making recommendations on council boundaries and the Comhairle Chief Executive has had initial discussions with the Commission about how best to proceed.

There has not traditionally been any Scottish-wide rule on the number of Councillors per elector in Scotland, however the commission is required by law to keep the number of electors per councillor ‘as nearly as can be’ the same within each council area.

The Comhairle has expressed the view that there should be greater flexibility in the criteria for determining the number of councillors to be elected to each ward - which could allow for wards of two elected members, or at the other extreme, wards of five of six elected members.

Comhairle Leader, Cllr Angus Campbell, explained to members at the Policy and Resources Committee that all ideas will be “up for discussion”. He added: “This is very much a starting point,” but stressed the idea of reducing the number of councillors had come across strongly in the budget consultation meetings at the start of the year.

Chief Executive of the Comhairle, Malcolm Burr, explained that any change would go through a consultation - however the consultation process would be in the hands of the Local Government Boundary Commission for Scotland - not the council.