Falkirk’s councillors vote against cuts

Boundary Commission plans have been rejected by Falkirk Council's elected members
Boundary Commission plans have been rejected by Falkirk Council's elected members

Councillors have voted to reject moves to cut their numbers in the town hall by two.

Controversial proposals from the Local Government Boundary Commission for Scotland has recommended the total of elected members on Falkirk Council be trimmed from 32 to 30 to cover nine wards.

Its latest review of electoral arrangements would see Grangemouth and Falkirk South which currently has four councillors each reduced to three.

The Commission also wants changes to ward boundaries in both Falkirk South, which takes in Camelon, and Skinflats and adopting the Forth and Clyde Canal and River Carron as new identifiable boundaries to be in place before the local government elections in May 2017.

But at a special meeting of the full council yesterday (Wednesday) the Labour-led administration voted by 16 to 12 to fight the plan - and consider challenging the way the Commission has conducted the review process through a judicial review.

The way the Commission has reached its conclusions has raised concerns.

For the first time it has categorised council areas based on deprivation and population distribution instead of the more traditional method which looked at density and distribution of population.

The way it has ‘crunched the numbers’ to create a system where overall there will be 1217 councillors representing 351 wards in Scotland, down by six councillors and two wards on the current arrangements, has been challenged by the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities.

Now Chief Executive Mary Pitcaithly has been told to formally write to the Commission rejecting its proposals for the Falkirk Council area and request the number remain at 32.

The letter will also criticise the Commission for ignoring its previous response and the insufficient time it had to talk to members and produce alternatives.

Council leader Craig Martin said: “The proposals from the Commission are far worse than we expected.”