The Scottish Government has rejected proposals to split Dundee’s Broughty Ferry council ward in two.
Minister for parliamentary business Joe FitzPatrick, the MSP for Dundee City West, announced Dundee would be spared a shake-up of its boundaries.
The Boundary Commission for Scotland has proposed splitting the Broughty Ferry Ward in two, with West Ferry becoming part of the East End, and increasing the overall number of councillors in Dundee by two.
The move provoked a massive public outrcy although councillors – bar the Ferry’s sole Conservative member Derek Scott – backed the plans.
However, the strength of public opinion led to a swift change of heart and Dundee City Council lodged a formal objection to the proposals.
There was widespread relief yesterday that the plans had been rejected althogh Scottish Labour is demanding Mr FitzPatrick explain why his own local authority was one of only two to have its proposed changes rejected.
Mr FitzPatrick said: “Local government plays an important role in delivering key services across Scotland and it’s important for the sake of democracy, and for local service delivery that councils are as representative as possible of the communities they serve.
“That’s why the Boundary Commission is obliged to hold regular reviews of council wards and councillor numbers to ensure these reflect changes in population.
“In a small number of cases – Argyll and Bute, Dundee City and Scottish Borders – we have listened to local representations and left boundaries as they currently stand, to ensure that strong historic ties in particular areas and communities are maintained.”
He added: “Significant concerns were raised about aspects of the Commission’s proposals for those areas, in particular that they would not reflect local communities.”
North East Scotland Conservative MSP Liam Kerr said the decision was a victory for “people power” after Broughty Ferry residents sent in 1,000 letters opposing the plans.
He said: “I am delighted to hear that the Minister has taken on board the concerns expressed loud and clear locally that this change was not wanted.
“This is great news and vindication for those who spoke up during the consultation – even if the objections were subsequently dismissed in the final report to Ministers.
“The Minister deserves credit for listening to the views of the local population, which were simply brushed aside in the report and final recommendations of the Commission.
“This is a result for people power and shows what can be achieved when people stand up collectively for their local area.”
However, Scottish Labour said Mr FitzPatrick must explain why he rejected contentious proposals in how own local authority area but not those for other council wards.
Business manager James Kelly MSP said: “There is a potential conflict of interest here, and voters have a right to know how this decision was reached.
“There should be full transparency on the decision-making process, which comes just months before the local government elections.
“Mr FitzPatrick should come before MSPs to explain his decision.”