It has come to light that Conservative Party lobbyists have started a campaign to see Westhill cut from the proposed constituency of Gordon & Deeside in favour of Banchory.
It has been widely reported that the Tories want to include Banchory in the Boundary Commissions new UK constituency in the hope that it will improve their chances to win the seat in 2020. But in a submission to the consultation from Tory peer Lord McInnes of Kilwinning it has become clear that they want to see Westhill moved out of the constituency and into the new Angus constituency to even up the numbers.
Mr Rumbles made a second submission to the commission today highlighting the issue, he said: “This is a shameless Tory stitch-up. They have given no regard to the communities they are playing politics with, not to mention the impracticality of chopping off Westhill and gluing it to the new Angus constituency.
“If the Conservative proposals are taken on board by the commission it would mean that Westhill would be barely connected to the Angus constituency by a B-road over the hills to the west of the city. What is more, Westhill’s links to communities along the A944 and Banchory’s historic connections to Kincardineshire would be completely ignored. Ludicrous.
“The Boundary Commission’s proposals are perfectly reasonable as they are. They should not be influenced by the shameless partisan politics of the Conservative party machine. I urge them to remain fair and impartial and to hold their ground, as they have to this stage.”
Notes for editors:
- Mike Rumbles MSP’s supplementary submission to the Boundary Commission for Scotland 2018 Review:
2018 Review of UK Parliament Constituencies Secondary Consultation
I take this opportunity to make a second response to the secondary consultation of the boundary review of UK Parliamentary constituencies.
I note the submission of Lord McInnes of Kilwinning CBE Conservative Party and his suggestion that Westhill is removed from the proposed Gordon & Deeside constituency and is moved instead into the new Kincardine & East Angus constituency. Lord McInnes clearly writes in support of my Scottish Parliamentary colleague Alexander Burnett MSP and their ‘write in’ campaign in which he asks the commission to move Banchory into the Gordon & Deeside.
It is obvious to me that the Conservative Party wish to swap these communities for political gain. Nevertheless, Lord McInnes’ and Alexander Burnett MSP’s suggested exchange of these communities, in my view, ignores the historic and traditional links between Westhill with Aberdeenshire and Banchory with Kincardineshire and is highly impractical.
Westhill is joined to the proposed Kincardine & East Angus constituency only by a narrow B-road. That road does not even appear on the map supplied by the Bounty Commission within the documents for the Secondary Consultation. An alteration like this would mean that constituents traveling to meetings with their MP, or the MP journeying between Westhill and Kincardineshire, would likely be forced to leave the constituency and travel through the City of Aberdeen. Moreover, as well as its geographic location, Westhill has long and practical ties to the communities north of the River Dee and to the rest of Aberdeenshire, as A944 and the rest of the current road network suggests.
In my view the campaign organised by the Conservative Party to include Banchory and exclude Westhill from the Gordon & Deeside constituency is politically motivated and should be dealt with on that basis. - Mike Rumbles MSP
- Section of submission of Lord McInnes of Kilwinning CBE Conservative Party to the Boundary Commission for Scotland 2018 Review:
3.4.4 Within Aberdeenshire, we consider that most of Ward 16 Banchory and Mid Deeside is separated clearly from Kincardineshire by substantial physical barriers. We suggest that Wards 13 and 16 should be looked at together, with a view to including in the Gordon and Deeside constituency the town of Banchory and other areas which sit physically in Deeside; and that the communities which are not geographically part of Deeside, including Westhill, should be placed instead in Kincardine and Angus East constituency.
3.4.5 We note that Westhill is connected to Kincardineshire only by minor roads, and that the main road connection, pending the completion of the major new by-pass, would be through Peterculter in Aberdeen. We referred to issues of direct road connection above and we suggest that Westhill’s connection to the Kincardine and Angus East constituency, directly on minor roads, and on major roads running through other constituencies, is stronger than Mallaig’s connection to the rest of the Inverness and Skye constituency, and is comparable to the Motherwell-Hamilton connection, both of which the Commission was able to recommend in its Initial Proposals.
3.4.6 We therefore support the proposed composition of the Angus Glens and Dundee East, Banff and Buchan, Dundee, Gordon and Deeside and Kincardine and Angus East constituencies but would ask the Commission to examine whether an alternative solution is available between the two last-named constituencies in respect of the township of Banchory.