Edinburgh takes part of Musselburgh under proposed shake-up of Westminster constituency boundaries

Part of Musselburgh will be moved out of the East Lothian constituency for future Westminster elections under new plans for a shake-up of Scotland’s political map.

Thursday, 14th October 2021, 4:55 am

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A chunk of the Honest Toun is set to be transferred to the neighbouring Edinburgh East constituency.

Also under the proposals, the current Linlithgow and East Falkirk seat – the biggest in Scotland with 88,000 electors – will be split up and a new Linlithgow and Bathgate constituency created.

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Edinburgh East takes in part of Musselburgh under the new proposals, while most Edinburgh seats see little change and a new Linlithgow and Bathgate seat is created.

But most Edinburgh seats see only minor adjustments and Midlothian remains exactly as it is.

The Boundary Commission for Scotland published its proposals today – the first revision of UK parliament seats since 2005 – marking the start of an eight-week consultation period.

Previous plans to cut the number of MPs from 650 to 600 were dropped, but the shake-up still means Scotland going down from 59 seats to 57.

The commission had to work within strict rules about how many electors there can be per seat – to keep the size of constituencies roughly equal.

That meant the current East Lothian seat had to be reduced, so it is proposed around 8,000 electors are switched to Edinburgh East and in recognition that the East Lothian constituency no longer covers the whole county it will be renamed East Lothian Coast.

But it will not be the first time there has been a cross-boundary constituency for the Honest Toun. Edinburgh East & Musselburgh was a UK parliament constituency from 1997 until 2005 and a Scottish Parliament one from 1999 until 2011.

Linlithgow and East Falkirk’s status as Scotland’s biggest constituency made change there inevitable – its 88,000 voters compared with less than 47,000 in the smallest seat, Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross.

So East Falkirk is removed to make way for the new Linlithgow and Bathgate seat, which will take Broxburn, Uphall and Backburn from the current Livingston constituency.

Within the Capital, Edinburgh South West, which had been under threat in a previous boundary review, will now remain completely unchanged.

And none of the other Edinburgh seats are changed significantly. Under the plans, Edinburgh West will now become the biggest seat in Scotland with 76,903 electors.

Professor Ailsa Henderson of Edinburgh University, one of the commission’s two commissioners, said the higher than average population growth in the Lothians had been reflected in the proposals.

She said the new map of Scottish constituencies had been drawn up based on a quota of 73,393 voters per seat, with a five per cent deviation allowed, meaning constituencies could not fall below 69,724 or go above 77,062, except for the “protected” seats of Orkney & Shetland and the Western Isles, which are both below the quota.

On the consultation period which begins today, Prof Henderson said: “We encourage everyone to submit comments. That includes suggestions for improvements but also comments on things you would lie to retain.”

In spring 2022 there is a second consultation of six weeks and there will be up to five public hearings across Scotland before a third and final four-week consultation period.

The commission has to submit its final recommendations to parliament by July 1, 2023.

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