Large wards could deter people from standing for council

Combining large areas like Lochs, Harris and Uig in a single council ward may put people off standing for the Comhairle, it has been warned.

In a response to suggestions by the Local Government Boundary Commission for Scotland for future council wards in the Western Isles, the Comhairle’s Chief Executive Malcolm Burr stressed the council’s view that wards should reflect natural communities.

The current arrangement of nine wards in the Western Isles with three or four members each is not considered to be the best set up and this view was put forward by councillors at a recent Members Seminar.

In a letter to the secretary of the Boundary Commmision for Scotland, Mr Burr said: “Natural communities, historical ties and transport connections should always, in the Comhairle’s view, be given significant weight in developing ward boundaries. It is also a distinct possibility that the size of some wards may discourage candidates from coming forward for election.”

The proposal by the Commission that the communities of Sandwick, Parkend and Holm be added to the Point ward were also highlighted by Mr Burr who pointed out that the residents in this area ‘tend to identify more naturally with Stornoway than Point’.

Mr Burr suggests that Plasterfield and Steinish remain within Stornoway South and that the Sgire an Rubha ward be renamed to include Sandwick.

It is also suggested that the name of the An Taobh Siar agus Nis ward be extended to include Carloway. Gleann Dubh should be included in Stornoway North ward as well as a small number of addresses on the Lochs Road.

The Arnish area should also be part of a Stornoway as it forms part of the Harbour.