Friday, 24 April 2015

Council to pursue Saltcoats split understands North Ayrshire Council is to press ahead in promoting boundary changes that will see Saltcoats split in two, the western part of town being  linked with Ardrossan while the eastern area becomes part of a Ward dominated by Stevenston.

This newspaper originally revealed the controversial idea in July of last year, when a majority of SNP and Labour councillors supported the proposed change after it was discussed at a council meeting.  At the time, local Independent councillors Ronnie McNicol and John Hunter voted against the plan.

In a paper presented to the July 2014 meeting, Chief Executive Elma Murray argued boundary changes to electoral Wards (the areas represented by councillors) are necessary to align them with Neighbourhood Planning Areas and to comply with Boundary Commission recommendations in terms of the number of electors in each Ward.

Currently North Ayrshire has 30 councillors, but Ms Murray’s paper set-out “exceptional circumstances” that she believed justified the district receiving an additional five elected members.

Following the meeting, North Ayrshire Council submitted its proposal to the Boundary Commission for Scotland.

However, in a recent Tweet, Kilwinning Labour councillor Donald Reid revealed the Commission had rejected the council’s argument for five additional councillors, instead indicating it was minded to allow an increase from 30 to 33 for the next council election in 2017.

This week a council insider told, “The Boundary Commission did not accept the arguments for five more councillors and suggested alternative boundary changes, such as Saltcoats being retained as a complete electoral Ward with the addition of the Whitlees and Chapelhill Mount areas of Ardrossan.

“That suggestion is not considered to be acceptable and the council will go back to the Boundary Commission with our original proposal for the creation of two new Wards – Ardrossan & Saltcoats West and Stevenston & Saltcoats East.”

The proposed division of Saltcoats comes despite Boundary Commission guidance that, as far as possible, “towns should not be split between Wards”.

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