Rutherglen should be part of city
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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