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Caithness News Bulletins March 2005

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New proposed boundaries for local government electoral divisions in the Highlands have been published.

As the result of the decision by the Scottish Executive to move to Proportional Representation and multi-member wards at the next local government election in 2007, using the Single Transferable Vote, the Local Government Boundary Commission for Scotland has re-shaped The Highland Council map to produce 23 multi-member wards.

At present there are 80 single-member wards. From 2007, there will still be 80 elected members but the Boundary Commission proposes to create 12 three-member and 11 four-member wards.

The Council is to consult with all elected members locally before considering a response at a meeting of the full council on Thursday 5 May, or Thursday 28 April if the General Election is called on 5 May.  Once the Boundary Commission has considered the Council's comments it will embark on a second phase of consultations - this time with the general public.

Councillor David Alston, Chairman of the Renewing Democracy and Community Planning Select Committee, said the Council had been strongly opposed to the creation of three-four-member wards. In its submission to the Executive, the Council had argued for two-five-member wards to meet the special needs of rural Highland.

He said: "The move to Proportional Representation and 23 multi-member wards will bring significant change to the way the Council operates, both politically and operationally."

Convener Councillor Alison Magee said: "Over the coming weeks we will be looking at the boundary issues at a local level before finalising our response at the next full council meeting."

The Council has published the Boundary Commission proposals for Highland on its website: www.highland.gov.uk  and will display the maps in Service Points and libraries.

In Caithness the new multi-member wards will be Wick - three councillors, Thurso Three councillors and Rural Caithness four councillors