Ruther­glen should be part of city

Rutherglen Reformer - - NEWS - Dou­glas Dickie

A lead­ing Glas­gow his­to­rian and au­thor has told the Re­former that Ruther­glen should once again be­come part of Glas­gow.

Ian R Mitchell, whose books in­clude This City Now ,Cly­de­side: Red, Or­ange and Green and most re­cently, A Glas­gow Mo­saic, said peo­ple who use Glas­gow ser­vices on a reg­u­lar ba­sis should be con­tribut­ing to the city.

In an ar­ti­cle for a Sun­day news­pa­per last month, Mr Mitchell said: “The in­crease in rev­enue the city would gain from in­clud­ing the rich sub­urbs within its bound­aries would be a step in the right di­rec­tion.

“Cly­de­bank and Ruther­glen should be part of Glas­gow; so too should East Dun­bar­ton­shire and East Ren­frew­shire, two of the rich­est parts of Scot­land.

“This, with the ad­di­tion of the other con­tigu­ous ar­eas, would cre­ate a city of about one mil­lion peo­ple, which would be bet­ter able to deal with its so­cial prob­lems, and would be a much big­ger hitter on the na­tional and in­ter­na­tional stage.”

And speak­ing to the Re­former last week, he stood by his com­ments: “It’s a ba­sic fact that Glas­gow pro­vides fa­cil­i­ties for a tax-payer base for a much larger group of peo­ple who do not con­trib­ute.

“Peo­ple in Ruther­glen use Glas­gow ser­vices a lot more than peo­ple in Glas­gow would use Ruther­glen ser­vices, the flow works largely one way.

“In terms of plan­ning, the ini­tia­tives hap­pen­ing in Glas­gow’s east end, Ruther­glen has man­aged to get on its coat tails. Ruther­glen would not have got that on its own, and this is an ex­am­ple of how pe­riph­eral ar­eas can ben­e­fit.

“Glas­gow is the cul­tural, so­cial, po­lit­i­cal and sport­ing cen­tre of the conur­ba­tion.

“Of course, the ar­gu­ment comes up against lo­cal self-in­ter­est. Go­van used to be in­de­pen­dent and is now part of Glas­gow, but no where has a greater sense of iden­tity than Go­van.

“Ruther­glen used to have its own coun­cil and it’s now part of South La­nark­shire, how in­de­pen­dent is that?

“The idea is that Ruther­glen is in­de­pen­dent of Glas­gow, but that re­ally isn’t the case. Re­ally, it’s de­pen­dent, most peo­ple work in Glas­gow, so why not ac­knowl­edge that fact and con­trib­ute?”

Ruther­glen, and Cam­bus­lang, were part of Glas­gow Dis­trict Coun­cil be­tween 1975 and 1996.

Dur­ing that time, many lo­cals felt the towns lost their in­de­pen­dence and suf­fered ne­glect, with the de­cay of the Town Hall be­com­ing syn­ony­mous with a gen­eral de­cline.

A high pro­file cam­paign even­tu­ally bore fruit when the towns be­came part of South La­nark­shire in 1996.

But Mr Mitchell reck­ons the town would ben­e­fit this time around: “Glas­gow in the 80’s and 90’s was a dif­fer­ent place. It’s now a city that’s turned it­self around, and is now a cen­tre of cul­ture and tourism.

“If the ex­pe­ri­ence (the last time the town was part of Glas­gow) was neg­a­tive, I can’t com­ment, but hope­fully it wouldn’t be this time. I’m quite sure there were real griev­ances, I can’t re­ally com­ment, and I’d be in­ter­ested to hear what they were.

“Glas­gow is a vi­brant city and that’s not spread to the pe­riph­eral ar­eas.

“Glas­gow’s sec­ond big­gest in­dus­try is now tourism. Peo­ple come to Glas­gow but they don’t go and see Ruther­glen Town Hall be­cause it is not on their radar. And why should the city pub­li­cise these things, it’s big busi­ness now, but if it was part of Glas­gow peo­ple would know about it, so I think there would be ben­e­fit for Ruther­glen as well.”

Mr Mitchell con­cedes any change is un­likely to hap­pen in the im­me­di­ate fu­ture, but he reck­ons the city will need to take steps to help fund fa­cil­i­ties used by peo­ple from out­with the bound­ary.

“Some cities have cit­i­zens cards for fa­cil­i­ties which means fa­cil­i­ties are free for peo­ple in the city but not for those out­with.

“I’d rather have a metropoli­tan Glas­gow, but if not I would look to see some way of mak­ing peo­ple who use the city fa­cil­i­ties from out­with con­trib­ute to­wards it.”

How­ever, Coun­cil­lor Robert Brown, who was one of the key play­ers to re­move Ruther­glen from Glas­gow, dis­missed Mr Mitchell’s ar­gu­ment.

He said: “It ’ s part of this push for c e nt ra l i s a t i o n . “The bot­tom line is, you’ve got to have some ac­count for com­mu­ni­ties, that’s the build­ing blocks. Where do you stop? Do you bring in East Kil­bride, Pais­ley, Dum­bar­ton?

“Glas­gow is the ma­jor com­mer­cial and trans­port hub and there needs to be a struc­ture that recog­nises that, but I don’t think that means we have got to re­or­gan­ise the whole Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment struc­ture the ab­sorbs Ruther­glen into the city.

“When we were part of Glas­gow, we found, far from be­ing en­er­gised, Ruther­glen was left be­hind and that’s why the feel­ing to leave was so strong.

“You have got to recog­nise that lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties have proud lo­cal tra­di­tions. It’s true that South La­nark­shire is county based rather than burgh based, and I have al­ways ar­gued for stronger pow­ers for the area com­mit­tees, but Ruther­glen and Cam­bus­lang have more of a stand­ing within South La­nark­shire.”

Ian R Mitchell in the au­thor of A Glas­gow Mo­saic: Ex­plo­rations Around the City’s Ur­ban Icons, from Luath Press, £8.99.

Seat of power Should Ruther­glen be gov­erned lo­cally from Glas­gow’s City Cham­bers?

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