PROPOSED changes to the Scottish Parliament’s East Lothian constituency – including renaming it Lothian Eastern and moving Tranent to a neighbouring new seat – have been dubbed “bonkers”.

Boundaries Scotland has revealed plans to scrap the East Lothian constituency at Holyrood and instead split the county, electorally, into two new seats: Edinburgh Eastern, Musselburgh and Tranent – which would also include Elphinstone, Whitecraig and Wallyford – and Lothian Eastern, covering the rest of the county.

But the proposals, unveiled on Tuesday, have been widely slammed by politicians and affected community councils.

East Lothian Courier: Lothian Eastern proposed Scottish Parliament constituency mapThe proposed Scottish Parliament constituency map for Lothian Eastern, showing Tranent ‘cut out’ from the previous constituency. The red lines show the boundaries of the East Lothian Council wards

The move comes in the wake of the East Lothian constituency name being ditched at Westminster; at the next UK Parliament election, expected to take place later this year, the county’s new MP will be serving Lothian East.

READ MOREEast Lothian name to disappear at Westminster

The existing East Lothian constituency at Holyrood encompasses the majority of the county and is represented by the SNP’s Paul McLennan MSP. While Musselburgh, Wallyford and Whitecraig currently fall under the Midlothian North and Musselburgh constituency, where Colin Beattie (SNP) is the MSP.

However, under the proposals, which are now subject to one month’s public consultation, Musselburgh, Wallyford, Whitecraig, Elphinstone and Tranent would form a new Edinburgh Eastern, Musselburgh and Tranent constituency, which would also include Portobello and Craigmillar – harking back to the days of the old Edinburgh East and Musselburgh constituency which existed from 1999 to 2011 and was represented by Kenny MacAskill, now East Lothian's MP.

East Lothian Courier: Edinburgh Eastern, Musselburgh and Tranent proposed Scottish Parliament constituency mapThe proposed Scottish Parliament constituency map for Edinburgh Eastern, Musselburgh and Tranent. The red vertical line furthest to the left shows the county boundary between East Lothian and Edinburgh; the other red line shows the boundary between the Musselburgh and Tranent wards

The proposed Scotland-wide revisions to Scottish Parliament constituency boundaries aim to create seats of similar electorate size.

Mr McLennan was among those questioning the plans.

He said: “I find the proposal to rename the East Lothian constituency to Lothian Eastern nonsensical.

"East Lothian has its own identity. It is not simply the eastern chunk of the Lothians but a thriving group of communities with a strong sense of shared history and belonging. Losing the East Lothian name would show disregard for local identity.

"East Lothian is continuing to grow – we are the second-fastest-expanding council area in the country. Of course, boundary changes will have to take place to account for this.

“However, the new boundaries need to make sense for the communities affected and historic links between the communities on either side of the proposed borders must be respected. Losing Tranent and Elphinstone from the constituency would alter strong community bonds. Such a decision should not be taken lightly.

“I would encourage all residents to engage with this next stage of the review process, whether you support or oppose the provisional proposals.”

'A suburb of Edinburgh'

Tranent and Elphinstone Community Council held its monthly meeting on Tuesday at which Mike Falconer, chair, said that the group planned to object to the proposals.

He said: “Since when did Tranent or Elphinstone have anything to do with East Edinburgh? Furthermore, it doesn’t make sense from a wider East Lothian perspective that East Lothian to be split in two like this.”

Robert McNeill, a member of the group, called for a campaign to stop the proposals being launched.

He said: “This is a numbers game and is not at all about connections. There have been concerns raised in the past that Tranent could become a suburb of Edinburgh, this just adds fuel to that.

"We need to call on politicians, all our politicians, to fight this and safeguard the future of Tranent and Elphinstone in East Lothian. I think we need to have a serious discussion about some sort of campaign to fight this.”

'Taking an ice cream scoop out of East Lothian'

Councillor Colin McGinn, ward councillor for Tranent, Wallyford and Macmerry, added: “It is a numbers game. You look at the map and it’s like taking an ice cream scoop out of East Lothian.

“I live in East Lothian, I’ve chosen to represent East Lothian and I am proud of that. Now my ward will be over two constituencies. It’s a farce.

“It is no wonder folk get fed up with voting. Tranent are on the brunt of it now and we will fight it, but Whitecraig and Wallyford get it all the time. Some folk don’t know who their representatives are and where they come from.

"If this goes through, our sense of self is worth nothing. We must future-proof East Lothian. We have to fight this.”

Across Scotland, there are 73 Scottish Parliament constituencies.

Three – Na h-Eileanan an Iar, Orkney and Shetland – are protected by legislation and not subject to review. The remaining 70 are reviewed in a bid ensure that all constituencies and regions are of a similar electoral size.

The latest proposals follow plans last summer which would have seen Prestonpans moved out of the East Lothian constituency for the Scottish Parliament elections.

At that time, it was proposed that the town become part of the Midlothian North and Musselburgh constituency, which already includes Dalkeith, Musselburgh and Wallyford, and would have also included a portion of the east of Edinburgh under the proposals.

READ MOREBid to remove Prestonpans from county constituency labelled ‘madness’

DJ Johnston-Smith, chairman of Prestonpans Community Council, said the new proposals were better for the town but he would “reserve final judgement” until they were finalised.

He said: “We were very pleased to see that the Boundary Commission has both listened to and responded positively to our considered objection to Prestonpans being ripped out of the East Lothian constituency and lumped into a Frankenstein assemblage of communities, drawn from Midlothian, East Lothian and Edinburgh, arbitrarily stitched together to comply with a predetermined number of electors.

“Among other negative impacts, we believe that such an arrangement would have caused unnecessary confusion to our residents seeking assistance from their elected representatives.

“So, while this latest proposal is certainly better for Prestonpans, we will reserve final judgement on it until after we learn how our community council colleagues and the wider community in neighbouring Tranent also feel about it.”

A consultation took place last summer which, according to Boundaries Scotland, brought “very useful feedback and suggested improvements”.

As a result, a local inquiry was held.

Previously, the local authority stressed that electoral boundaries should not be driven entirely by numbers and that the other statutory considerations should carry some weight.

'An arbitrary line'

However, they wrote to the body to say: “The proposed change to the East Lothian boundary in the west of the county breaks strong community ties, splits a cohesive community between two constituencies, and disregards the geographic, transport, business and community links between the two parts of the community it proposes to split between two constituencies.

“There is a strong historic and community connection between the towns and villages in the west of the county, with Prestonpans being one of the county’s main towns.

“As a result of new development in the west of the county, the council has undertaken extensive work with community groups to build a sense of place, including the construction of a new community school campus in Wallyford, and this proposal draws an arbitrary line down the middle of the county and the communities that live there.”

Following the new proposals, an East Lothian Council spokesperson said: “While there have been further changes since the original proposal was put forward and the subsequent inquiry session, we note that the council’s suggestions as advanced at the inquiry have not been adopted.

“Officers and members are considering the new proposal with a view to considering whether or not to submit any further representations.”

Now, a further consultation is open until May 15 for people to give their thoughts on the revised proposals.

'Just bonkers'

Councillor Lee-Anne Menzies, ward member for Tranent, Wallyford and Macmerry, had concerns.

She said: “Tranent is not a satellite town of Edinburgh. Belters are proud to be living in East Lothian.

“I wish the people that made these decisions stopped treating people and communities as statistics. Their political representation is vitally important and, often, cannot be separated from the identity they have with their home towns and villages.

“My fear is that, when asked to vote in the Edinburgh Eastern constituency, this could impact the number of people that will vote as they won’t identify with that constituency. They are living in East Lothian and proudly so.

“The renaming of East Lothian to Lothian Eastern is just bonkers. And that’s me being polite.

"We are not Lothian Eastern. We are East Lothian.

"I really do despair that these decisions are made by people who don’t know the communities and the effect of this.”

'Undermining identity'

Martin Whitfield, South Scotland MSP, said of the proposals: “I’m very disappointed by these revised proposals, which simply swap one unwelcome boundary change with another.

"While recognising the impact of our growing population, I believe that both Prestonpans and Tranent are integral parts of East Lothian and should remain together in an East Lothian constituency.

“Splitting the county like this would still break historic community ties and create many of the same problems identified with the initial proposals.

“Ending the East Lothian constituency name is a further blow and risks undermining our area’s identity and cohesion at a parliamentary level.”

However, Colin Beattie, MSP for Midlothian North and Musselburgh, welcomed the review.

He said: “It’s encouraging to see that my feedback has been listened to.

"One of my main concerns was that initially the proposal for the new boundaries covered three separate council areas.

“I will be sorry to lose Musselburgh, Wallyford, Whitecraig and Monktonhall from my constituency, but the new boundaries for what will be called Midlothian North better encompass communities that live and work together.

“With high population growth in Midlothian and East Lothian, changes to constituency boundaries are necessary for fair representation.”

Ailsa Henderson, chair of Boundaries Scotland, set out the reasoning for the proposed changes. She said: “We were very pleased with the number of responses, as well as the quality of arguments and varied suggestions submitted during our first consultation.

“These have helped us to improve upon our provisional proposals and we have made changes to over two-thirds of the constituencies as a direct result of responses submitted during the consultation and at local inquiries.

“We think we have managed to address the vast majority of concerns while also following the rules as set out in legislation.”

Go to to share your views on the proposals.