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Boundary changes spark debate at Dundee public meeting

The meeting was held at City Chambers in Dundee.
The meeting was held at City Chambers in Dundee.

Tayside and Fife politicians have voiced mixed opinions on proposals to re-draw Scotland’s Westminster constituencies.

At a public event in Dundee, Willie Rennie, Liberal Democrat leader and MSP for north-east Fife, said his party “broadly welcomed” the initial proposals by the Boundary Commission, which would see the number of MPs in Scotland slashed from 59 to 53.

If the changes go ahead, a new constituency of Angus Glens and Dundee East would be created while the current Dundee West would become Dundee Burgh, with only the two protected islands constituencies and East Lothian seeing their seats unchanged.

Mr Rennie said: “We (the Liberal Democrats) broadly welcome the proposals.

“We’ve got two specific issues we wish to raise. With regards to the north-east, we think it makes sense to bring Banchory and Kincardine together with Angus East.

“We welcome the retention of north-east Fife as a community based around St Andrews and Cupar.

“There have been attempts in the past to splice that constituency and it has been resisted by the local community.”

Meanwhile, proposals to create a Kinross-shire and Cowdenbeath constituency were met with fierce opposition by Alexander Stewart, an MSP and Conservative councillor on Perth and Kinross Council.

He said: “Trying to bring together two very different communities does give us cause for concern.

“The issues of Kelty, Cowdenbeath and densely populated areas for example, are entirely different to those faced by small villages across Perthshire.

“Kinrosshire has never been paired with any part of any constituency in Fife. There are no natural economic or cultural links between the areas.

“I don’t believe the proposed boundary changes are in the best interest of those areas.

“It is essential that parliamentary constituencies allow for representation and I don’t think the proposals do that – there is considerably more population and deprivation in Cowdenbeath county compared to rural Kinrosshire and southern Perthshire, so the issues of Fife would dominate.”

Former MSP Murray Tosh, speaking on behalf of the Scottish Conservatives, said the division of Arbroath as part of the plans was “unnecessary” while Andrew Bowie, representing the north-east Conservative MSPs, said Banchory, which is “seen as the gateway to Deeside”, would lose out if partnered with Kincardine and Angus East.

No members of the public attended the meeting.

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