Capital to elect extra councillors in latest shake-up

Cllr Jason Rust and members of Colinto community council protested about plans to split Colinton
Cllr Jason Rust and members of Colinto community council protested about plans to split Colinton
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VOTERS will elect five extra councillors for the Capital when they go to the polls in next year’s local elections.

The Scottish Government has approved a shake-up of Edinburgh’s council wards which includes boundary changes and the boost in numbers.

It means the number of councillors will increase from 58 to 63 at the elections next May in a bid to reflect the city’s rising population and help combat poverty in the most deprived areas of the Capital.

The increase in numbers is part of a Scotland-wide review which proposed the size of each council based on population density and measures of deprivation.

Under the Single Transferable Vote system, introduced in 2007, Edinburgh has 17 multi-member wards – some with three and some with four councillors.

Five of the three-member wards will now get an extra seat to bring the total number up to 63.

The wards moving from three to four members are Almond, Pentland Hills, City Centre, Craigentinny/Duddingston and Portobello/Craigmillar.

There was controversy over initial proposals from the Local Government Boundary Commission for Scotland which would have meant a whole series of Colinton landmarks – including Colinton Parish Church, the Robert Louis Stevenson statue, war memorial and the offices of the Colinton Community Conservation Trust – would no longer officially be in Colinton.

Even the “Welcome to Colinton” sign would have been moved into the neighbouring ward.

But local groups united to fight the plan. The community council claimed the revamp would divide a natural neighbourhood, Colinton councillor Jason Rust and former Lord Provost Eric Milligan, who has lived in the area for 40 years, were among others voicing their opposition. And there was a 117-name petition against the changes.

The commission bowed to the campaign and put forward alternative proposals which mean all the key Colinton sites will remain in Colinton/Fairmilehead ward.

Cllr Rust said: “I am pleased that we finally have confirmation that all of Colinton will be kept together in one ward, which residents and local groups fought so hard to preserve.”

Other boundary changes see parts of Kingsknowe move from Pentland Hills ward to Fountainbridge/Craiglockhart; Morningside – no longer Meadows/Morningside – loses some of the Tollcross area but gains part of Comiston; and Forth ward loses part of Muirhouse Almond, but gains parts of Newhaven.

SNP Parliamentary Business Minister Joe Fitzpatrick said: “Local government plays an important role in delivering key services across Scotland and it’s important for the sake of democracy and for local service delivery that councils are as representative as possible of the communities they serve.

“That’s why the Boundary Commission is legally obliged to hold regular reviews of council wards and councillor numbers, to ensure these reflect changes in population – this is the fifth such review since the Commission was created in 1973.”