Borders faces losing two councillors

SBC Headquarters
SBC Headquarters

The number of local councillors could be reduced from 34 to 32, should Boundary Commission proposals be given the go-ahead.

Councillors are set to discuss the commission’s suggestion at a meeting today (Thursday).

The commission consults on councillor numbers before putting forward any changes to ward boundaries following reviews of each local authority area, which take place around once every eight to 12 years.

In assessing the appropriate ratio of councillors to electors, the commission has set it at 2,800 per councillor for the Borders.

The current ratio, based on 2012 electorate figures, is 2,639:1, hence the recommendation to reduce the number of councillors from the 2017 election.

A report to go before the council today states: “Given the rural nature of the Scottish Borders, the number of community councils, slow transport and communication infrastructure, and a geographic increase in ward sizes, the workload and travel time of 32 councillors will likely increase.

“A reduction in councillor numbers will, however, mean a reduction in the call on the public purse in terms of salary payments to individuals.”

Once the Boundary Commission has decided on the final size of councils in terms of member numbers, it will develop proposals for ward boundaries.

A consultation with the council on new ward boundaries is likely to start early next year.

The council report states that a reduction in councillor numbers would lead to an “inevitable” change in all ward boundaries.

Currently the ward with the highest ratio of electors to councillors is East Berwickshire with 2,824:1

The lowest ratios are in Hawick and Hermitage (2,374:1) and Hawick and Denholm (2,421:1).

Following consultations with the council and the public, it is anticipated that the Boundary Commission will submit final proposals to the Scottish Government during mid-2016.