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Council / Parliament committee backs council ward changes

A PROPOSAL to rejig some of Shetland’s council ward boundaries – which would increase the total number of elected members – is one step closer to being given the go-ahead.

The plans were given approval from the Scottish Parliament’s local government, housing and planning committee last week.

A map of the proposed boundaries.

The next step is for the proposal to be ratified by the parliament as a whole. If it gets the thumbs up, it will come into force ahead for the next council election in May 2022.

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Under final plans drawn up by Boundaries Scotland in a bid to rebalance the number of electors per councillor in the isles, Shetland would end up with 23 elected members instead of the current 22.

It proposes to decrease the number of councillors in the Shetland West ward from three to two, and reduce its size, and add one to Shetland Central and another to Shetland South.

This would include Gulberwick moving from Lerwick South to the south ward partly to “better reflect local ties”.

Under the plans Lerwick North would also be renamed Lerwick North and Bressay.

Proposals for councillor numbers for Orkney and the Western Isles were also approved by the parliament committee, but plans for the Highlands were not amid concern they would create a “democratic deficit” for some communities in the area.

The 2018 Islands Act required Local Government Boundary Commission for Scotland to review the six councils containing inhabited islands.

Meanwhile Shetland Islands Council released a handbook last week offering guidance for anyone thinking of standing in the May election.

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