A PROPOSAL to remove a section of Musselburgh from the East Lothian constituency for future General Elections “makes no sense whatsoever”, according to the town’s MSP.

Changes are being considered to the county’s Westminster constituency – which until now has exactly matched the county boundaries – under proposals being drawn up by The Boundary Commission for Scotland.

One of the proposed changes to the electoral map in Scotland is to see Musselburgh residents who live to the west of the River Esk included in the Edinburgh East constituency (see proposed map below).

East Lothian Courier: The proposed boundaries of the new Edinburgh East constituency

That would include areas of the Capital such as Portobello and Duddingston.

The rest of the East Lothian constituency would then be renamed East Lothian Coast and would continue to include the part of Musselburgh to the east of the river (see proposed map below).

East Lothian Courier: The proposed boundaries of the new East Lothian Coast constituency

But the proposal has met with opposition in the Honest Toun, including from Midlothian North and Musselburgh MSP Colin Beattie, who told the Courier: “The proposed boundary change for Musselburgh makes no sense whatsoever and has been ill thought through.

“The change would see the town split in two, which I do not believe will be received well by the residents of Musselburgh.

“The town has already seen changes to its political and council boundaries over the years and this change would only lead to confusion.

“Musselburgh is one town and should be served by one MP.

“I will be submitting my own objection and I would encourage all residents to strongly consider these proposals and give their views also.”

Irene Tait, chairperson of Musselburgh and Inveresk Community Council, was also not keen on the idea of making changes to the boundaries.

She said: “I would be happy if they left it as it is.

“Musselburgh is a town on its own and has its own unique identity. That should remain.

“It would be negative to split it up – it is not what people would want.”

The proposals were revealed last Thursday, marking the start of an eight-week consultation.

For Scotland as a whole, the number of MPs would be cut from 59 to 57. Meanwhile, there would 10 additional MPs in England, eight fewer in Wales and no change in Northern Ireland.

Lord Matthews, Deputy Chair of the Boundary Commission for Scotland, said: “I believe this is a promising start to delivering the requirements of the new rules that mean the number of constituencies in Scotland will reduce from 59 to 57, and that each mainland constituency must have broadly the same number of electors.

“We have set out proposals which do that and are, we believe, a good implementation of the rules set by Parliament.

“This is the beginning of a process and we now want to hear the views of the public.

“We will reflect on responses to the consultation and make changes where appropriate and where the legislation allows us to do so.

“We strongly encourage voters to make their views heard.”

At the last General Election in East Lothian, Kenny MacAskill won the seat for the SNP by a majority of 3,886 over incumbent Labour MP Martin Whitfield – Mr MacAskill has since left the SNP and joined the ALBA Party.

The proposed changes would have no effect to the existing Scottish Parliament constituencies, which see Musselburgh, Wallyford and Whitecraig included as part of the Midlothian North and Musselburgh constituency, and the rest of the county in the East Lothian constituency.


East Lothian MP Mr MacAskill said of the proposals: “Boundaries are rightly not set by politicians or their parties.

“There are constraints given the population set for a constituency and the fact that East Lothian is larger.

“There’s no easy way of cutting and preferably that wouldn’t happen. But if it’s to proceed, this may be viewed as one of the least worst options.”

Paul McLennan, MSP for East Lothian, highlighted the connection between East Lothian and the Honest Toun.

He said: “I would encourage constituents who have concerns to engage with the consultation.

“The proposed boundary changes will have no effect on the Scottish Parliamentary constituency; however, there have always been close links between Musselburgh and the rest of East Lothian, especially at a local government level.

“Whatever the outcome, I will continue to work closely with neighbouring politicians on matters that affect us all like transport and local infrastructure.”

Martin Whitfield, South Scotland MSP, was not a fan of dividing Musselburgh.

He said: “I appreciate that the Boundary Commission has a difficult task, especially considering East Lothian’s rapidly growing population, but dividing Musselburgh in two simply makes no sense.

“The proposal would split the East Lothian Council boundary, as well as the ward boundary, breaking local community ties and creating confusion for residents.

“I hope that the commission will listen carefully to the views expressed on these initial proposals and reconsider how the boundaries here will be configured.”

Craig Hoy, fellow South Scotland MSP, queried the renaming of East Lothian to East Lothian Coast.

He said: “I am relieved to see that the Boundary Commission are looking at keeping most of East Lothian within the same parliamentary seat.

“This is an ongoing consultation, so over the coming weeks I will be engaging with constituents in East Lothian to get their views on this review.

“Musselburgh is not part of the area I represent and so I cannot comment on parliamentary boundaries in that area.

“Regarding elsewhere in East Lothian, one thing I am confused about is why the Commission have proposed naming the area ‘East Lothian Coast’ when parts of the seat are over 16 miles in-land.”