Bishopbriggs boundary bust-up

The revised boundary proposals
The revised boundary proposals

A row has blown up over a proposal to remove parts of Bishopbriggs from East Dunbartonshire’s Westminster constituency.

The local Liberal Democrats suggested the Auchinairn/Crowhill Road area should have a Glasgow MP.

However, this has been 
rejected by the Boundary Commission.

The LibDem proposal came after they opposed a plan by the Commission to 
divide Bearsden between East and West Dunbartonshire constituencies.

Rod Ackland, who was recently elected as LibDem councillor for Lenzie and Kirkintilloch South, submitted that Bishopbriggs be split up instead.

The party put forward their proposal in March this year as their preferred option in the current consultation to redraw the Westminster map in Scotland. The move by the Boundary Commission reduces Scots seats from 59 to to 53.

In a letter to the Commission in March, Bishopbriggs North Councillor Billy Hendry (Conservative) accused the Liberal Democrats of “mugging” Bishopbriggs.

He added: “I am obviously aware of the opposition in Bearsden to the Commission’s plan to divide the town between two constituencies.

“I don’t think, however, that it is fair to suggest Bishopbriggs should be divided between two constituencies instead.

“I feel that the Liberal Democrats have mugged Bishopbriggs, and I hope that the Boundary Commission will refuse to penalise our town.”

Former East Dunbartonshire SNP MP John Nicolson also protested against the LibDem proposal. He tweeted: “Unlikely to go down well in Bishopbriggs. I oppose their plans.”

In his original submission, Councillor Ackland said that the LibDems were of the view if some portion of East Dunbartonshire does have to be assigned elsewhere, Bishopbriggs is the one where “breaching will cause the least distress”.

He stated: “In the 2001 by-election and the 2003 and 2007 General elections for the Holyrood seat of Strathkelvin and Bearsden, the dominant issue was the campaign to Save Stobhill Hospital, just across the border in a Glasgow constituency.

“The extent to which voters in Strathkelvin as a whole, and Bishopbriggs in particular, demonstrably realized that the issues in the neighbouring Glasgow constituency affected them and mattered to them, does, we think, suggest that if some portion of East Dunbartonshire does have to be assigned elsewhere, this southern border is the one where breaching will cause the least distress.

“Voters in Auchinairn meet voters in Glasgow daily, while walking their dogs on the golf course or shopping at the Robroyston retail park.”

After being contacted this week by the Herald, Councillor Ackland said: “That argument was rejected but our suggestion that whatever portion was taken away be as small as possible has been accepted”.

East Dunbartonshire LibDem MP Jo Swinson insisted on Monday the LibDems “have fought to keep East Dunbartonshire together”.

She said: “The Boundary Commission’s original proposals were divisive and failed to account for strong ties that exist within communities here. The revised proposals show that they have listened and done their best to address the concerns expressed by people in Bearsden about being lumped in with West Dunbartonshire for Parliamentary representation. However, while fewer Bearsden residents are affected in these new proposals, 5,734 still are.

“The Government should recognise the numerical constraints imposed on the Boundary Commission are too tight and inflexible.”

She added: “This whole process is doomed anyway due to opposition from the DUP and Tory backbenchers, so the Government must stop wasting public money on a boundary review that is already dead in the water.”

Have your say on revised proposals at www.eastdunbarton.gov.uk/council/elections-voting/uk-parliamentary-boundary-review.