We are responsible for making recommendations "in the interests of effective and convenient local government" by means of alteration, constitution or abolition of a local government area, or by making changes in the electoral ward boundaries of a local government area.

As part of an electoral review of a local authority, we will make a recommendation on how many councillors there should be for that local authority. As with all of our recommendations, Scottish Ministers decide how to implement that recommendation.

The rules for designing wards are set out in the law, and include:

  • the aim to produce wards where the electorate for each councillor is as close to the average as practical,
  • the need to fix boundaries which are and will remain easily identifiable, 
  • consideration of any local ties which would be broken by fixing any particular boundary, and
  • following the introduction of the Scottish Elections (Reform) Act 2020 each ward can elect between 2 and 5 councillors. The Islands (Scotland) Act 2018 additionally allows 1-member wards within those 6 council areas covered by the Act, where those wards contain inhabited islands.

Yes. The public consultation process is designed to allow everyone to express their view on our proposals, either for or against. You can do this by letter or email, or using our contact details given on each page of the website. Views in support of our proposals are as important as those against.

The Commission normally holds a Local Inquiry when it considered that it does not have sufficient information to reach an informed decision about a particular area.

Normally, the extent of a local government area ends at the low water mark. In a small number of cases, a local government area has been extended by legislation around a port or harbour into the surrounding sea beyond the low water mark. The largest of these seaward extensions is Yell Sound in the Shetland Islands, and there are also substantial extensions at Aberdeen and Greenock. We use the Ordnance Survey depiction of these seaward extensions.

We conduct a periodic review Scottish Parliament boundaries every 8 to 12 years. We can conduct an Interim Review of Scottish Parliament boundaries between periodic reviews if we judge it necessary. Interim Reviews have only taken place in the past when there has been a change to a council area boundary which coincides with a constituency boundary.

The process that we follow is largely defined by the law. The process can be summarised as:

  • we develop Provisional Proposals;
  • we publish our proposals for 1 month of public consultation;
  • we consider all responses received during the consultation, hold local inquiries and produce Revised Recommendations as necessary; 
  • we publish any Revised Recommendations for 1 month of public consultation;
  • we consider any further responses received during the consultation and produce Further Recommendations as necessary;
  • we publish any Further Recommendations for public consultation; and
  • we submit our report to the Secretary of State for Scotland.

As part of a review we produce a booklet explaining the process, which is available from us or from this website.

A local inquiry is held depending on the comments received during a consultation. The law requires that, if a large number of objections are received, or if a local authority objects, then a local inquiry must be held. 
We can also decide that there should be a local inquiry even if those criteria are not met. We arrange for a Sheriff Principal to chair any local inquiry and report on it.