East Lothian voter confusion as Musselburgh is split in half in Hokey Cokey' change

The Boundary Commission has been accused of ‘gerrymandering’ through East Lothian’s biggest town under new plans to split the community in half.

By Marie Sharp
Wednesday, 15th December 2021, 1:01 pm

Proposals to move half of Musselburgh’s residents into a new Edinburgh East constituency ward for future UK parliament elections have sparked fury from local councillors.

One accused the commission of playing the Hokey Cokey with the town which would, under the new plans, be in three different wards depending on the election.

An additional plan to rename the East Lothian Constituency as East Lothian Coastal was ridiculed by councillors who pointed out many of the county’s communities are “landlocked” and nowhere near the coast.

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The proposals from the Boundary Commission come after East Lothian’s Westminster constituency numbers rose above the threshold it has set of within five percent of 73,392 voters.

The current electorate in East Lothian lies at 82, 479 and the commission proposed to move people living in the west of Musselburgh into a new Edinburgh East constituency leaving the east of the town in the newly named East Lothian Coastal.

Voters in Musselburgh west would then vote in East Lothian Council elections, as part of the Midlothian and Musselburgh ward for Scottish Parliament elections and Edinburgh East ward for UK Parliament elections.

Councillor Stuart Currie raised concern that voter confusion would set in with the town split leading to poor turnout at elections.

He said: “Musselburgh has already played the Hokey Cokey, in and out, my biggest concern is voter confusion will have an impact on turnout.”

Councillor Katie Mackie, Musselburgh ward member, said: “It is absolutely clear we are victims of a number game.

“Musselburgh is a separate town and has a strong identity, I would want it to be a part of Greater Edinburgh. I think Musselburgh deserves better.”

Under the changes proposed by the boundary commission Musselburgh Racecourse would remain in East Lothian Coastal but its historic Fisherrow and harbour would be in Edinburgh East.

Councillors unanimously supported a submission to the Boundary Commission not to split the town up adding if it did go ahead Musselburgh should be recognised in the name of the new constituency.

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