The Local Government Boundary Commission for Scotland has proposed changes to the boundary between East Dunbartonshire Council area and Glasgow City Council area at Princes Gate, Greenacres by Robroyston. Their provisional proposals, published in May, recommended a boundary change which would mean 42 houses, or 99 people currently residing in East Dunbartonshire joining Glasgow City, but thanks to the campaigning efforts of local residents, revised proposals were published in October 2009 which would keep those homes in the East Dunbartonshire local authority area. However we must not rest on our laurels – we must now keep up the pressure to ensure these are the recommendations made to Scottish Ministers.
Why does the Boundary Commission want to move the Council boundary?
Under new guidelines brought in in 2006, local council boundaries should preferably be defined by a permanent landmark, such as a road or river. The current boundary at Greenacres runs through a supermarket, 3 houses and 13 gardens. The Commission is proposing that the boundary be realigned to follow the southern edge of Auchinairn Road.
At no point have East Dunbartonshire Council, Glasgow City Council or any residents of the area raised complaints about the fact that the boundary intersects the housing estate.
Who would be affected by the move?
The revised recommendations (Oct 09) would keep the Princes Gate housing development in East Dunbartonshire Council, including those in Wallace Drive, Wallace Gate and Wallace Place would have been affected by the provisional proposals. A small group of houses to the north of Brookfield Drive, Streamfield Lea and Tarn Grove which are not part of Princes Gate would remain in Glasgow City Council area. If you are not sure whether you would be affected by the changes, please take a look at the map provided in the revised recommendations. These have now been submitted to Scottish Ministers as the Commission’s final recommendations.
The provisional proposals (May 09) would transfer an area of land, including 42 houses, from East Dunbartonshire to Glasgow City. Residents of Wallace Drive, Wallace Gate and Wallace Place would be affected by the move. If you are not sure whether you would be affected by the changes, please take a look at the map provided in the provisional proposals.
What factors have the Boundary Commission considered in their proposals?
In coming up with the provisional proposals published on 14th May 2009, the Boundary Commission considered the views of East Dunbartonshire Council and Glasgow City Council.
The Commission said it was aware of “matters of local concern” but only considered them in relation to any impact they may have on effective and convenient local government. After the provisional proposals were published, the Commission then held a public consultations on them, in which it was able to consider the views of local people, and the impact the move would have on their financial arrangements, access to services and education. It was based on these considerations that the Commission came up with its revised recommendations published on 29th October 2009.
Any possible impacts on the outcomes of elections have not been considered.
Why were local people opposed to the provisional proposals?
The residents of Princes Gate unanimously oppose the changes recommended in the provisional proposals, along with elected representatives of all parties. There are a number of reasons why residents of Princes Gate do not want to become part of Glasgow City instead of East Dunbartonshire. I have been in close contact with the residents, and I wrote to the Boundary Commission in March 2009 to express their concerns. You can read that letter here:
31/03/09 “No reason to move council boundary” – Swinson
The main objections are as follows:
- Belonging to the Community: When people chose to purchase a home within East Dunbartonshire, many of them did so because they wanted to be part of the local community. Many people deliberately chose this place to live because they wanted their children to access the excellent local schools in Bishopbriggs. Several residents have contacted me because their children attend a denominational school within East Dunbartonshire, and so they have developed close ties with the local church because of its links to the school. They now feel they are part of the community in East Dunbartonshire and they don’t want to feel like they are no longer a part of it.
- Council Tax increases: People concerned about the possibility of an increase in council tax, as Glasgow City Council charges more than East Dunbartonshire. In purchasing their homes, people have to ensure that they are able to cover the costs of running their home, as well as the initial costs. When the current residents bought these homes, they did so on the basis that they would be paying the East Dunbartonshire rate, not the Glasgow City one.
- House Prices: Homes inside East Dunbartonshire typically have a higher value than those in Glasgow City. When the housing estate was built, both the Boundary Commission and the developer, George Wimpey (West Scotland) Ltd, knew that it was being built across the local authority boundary but did not see this as a problem. Those houses which lie on the East Dunbartonshire side of the boundary were purchased at a higher price, but if the boundary is moved then they are likely to fall in value.
- Local Services: Residents of East Dunbartonshire appreciate the quality of services they enjoy, be they local sports facilities, libraries or other community facilities or services. They do not want to lose access to these services.
- Affordable Housing: Aside from the consequences for the current residents, the move could also jeopardise the possibility of creating more affordable housing in the area. If the Commission decides to move the boundary, there is a good chance that East Dunbartonshire Council would lose land that has been earmarked for affordable housing. By removing this land, the Boundary Commission would be removing land that the Council can sell in exchange for social housing.
Residents were also frustrated that they have never been offered an explanation as to the intended benefits of the changes suggested in the provisional proposals.
Will the Boundary Commission take these objections into account?
Yes, they have been taken into account. After the provisional proposals were published, a public consultation period began, which ran until 6th August 2009. As part of this consultation, I submitted my objections to the proposals in a letter to the Boundary Commission in June. You can read that letter here:
22/06/09 Lib Dems challenge Boundary Commission over Bishopbriggs plans
I also called on the Commission to hold a Local Inquiry, to fully consider the views of local people.
15/05/09 Swinson and Finnie call for Local Inquiry over boundary changes
There can be no doubt that the views received from many in the local community played a role in the Boundary Commission’s decision to change its position when it published its revised recommendations. You can read more about the reaction here:
29/10/09 Bishopbriggs victory on Council Boundaries U-turn, but fight is not over
Read East Dunbartonshire Council’s report on the revised proposals (PDF, scroll to page 135)
The Boundary Commission held a public consultation on the revised recommendations until 28th January 2010. You can read my submission to the consultation here:
22/01/10 Final push to stop Council boundary move
The Boundary Commission decided in February 2010 to submit these revised recommendations as its final recommendations to Scottish Ministers.
08/03/10 Another step toward victory on Council Boundary move
This is not the end of the campaign, however, Scottish Ministers have not yet made a decision on the recommendations.
What happens next?
Scottish Ministers must now make a decision based upon the Local Government Boundary Commission’s recommendations. I will use this page to keep you updated on any new developments. You can also check the Local Government Boundary Commission website for the latest news.
18/04/09 Bishopbriggs Boundary – Princes Gate (Kirkintilloch Herald)