Plans to redraw Edinburgh’s Scottish Parliamentary boundaries make no sense to MSPs or voters - Angus Robertson

Edinburgh is a city made up of different communities, some even retaining a village feel from the time before they were incorporated into the city.

People’s lives revolve around the local shops, services and neighbourhoods they live in. That is why it matters when boundaries are redrawn that impact negatively on their community. It is exactly what has happened with proposed changes to Scottish Parliament boundaries which seek to move parts of central Edinburgh into Edinburgh Southern and communities from southern Edinburgh into Edinburgh Central.

Updating boundaries is a regular and necessary process which reflects changes in population. Unlike the gerrymandering that benefits political parties in other countries we can be grateful that our process is free from that.

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According to Boundaries Scotland: “The review is required under the terms of the Scotland Act 1998 and will recommend constituencies, and regions, of similar electorate size while also taking account of local authority areas, special geographical circumstances, maintenance of local ties and any inconveniences caused by the alteration of the existing boundaries”.

Last month, Boundaries Scotland published their provisional proposals for Scottish Parliament boundaries. Their review includes all 73 mainland constituencies and wider electoral regions while keeping the overall number of members of the Scottish parliament fixed at 129.

In Scotland’s capital city both Edinburgh Central and Edinburgh Southern would effectively change to become adjacent constituencies: running north-south. To affect these changes, communities in central Edinburgh, including Gorgie, Dalry and Fountainbridge would become part of Edinburgh Southern constituency, and communities in southern Edinburgh including the Grange, Mayfield and Blackford would become part of Edinburgh Central constituency.

Since the provisional plans were published constituents have raised their concerns that these specific proposals do not take appropriate account of Edinburgh geography, do not take appropriate account of local ties and do not take appropriate account of the inconveniences caused by changes to the constituencies.

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Concerns about the changes are held across political parties. Edinburgh Southern Labour MSP Daniel Johnson told The Scotsman, said there was a “strong case” for the changes to the boundaries to be reverted. He said: “Edinburgh is a city with very strong senses of local identity and strong communities.

"It is important that boundaries reflect those, so that those communities have effective representation in Parliament and at other levels. There is a strong case for the Boundary Commission to reflect upon this as they take evidence on the proposed boundaries.

"It is really important that people in Edinburgh Central and south Edinburgh are represented effectively in Parliament and they need boundaries that reflect their communities.”

In a submission to Boundaries Scotland I have stated that “All of the feedback I have received as constituency MSP makes clear that these specific proposals make no sense to central Edinburgh communities being lumped into Edinburgh South constituency or southern Edinburgh communities being lumped into Edinburgh Central constituency”.

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“I would be grateful if Boundaries Scotland would reconsider its proposals for Edinburgh Central and Edinburgh South, so that the central Edinburgh communities of Gorgie, Dalry and Fountainbridge remain in Edinburgh Central and the southern Edinburgh communities of Grange, Mayfield and Blackford remain in Edinburgh South”.

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