Thinktank proposal to create supercouncils

East Renfrewshire council would cease to exist if the proposals were adopted.
East Renfrewshire council would cease to exist if the proposals were adopted.

EAST Renfrewshire council would cease to exist if plans by a thinktank were adopted.

Thinktank Reform Scotland has proposed that Scotland should cut its number of councils from its current 32 down to 19, meaning East Ren would be coupled with Renfrewshire and Inverclyde.

The group claims that by creating bigger, but fewer, councils, more responsibility could be devolved to them from the Scottish government.

The group’s policy document, Renewing Local Government, also advocates giving more powers to community councils to encourage increased participation from local people.

However, the plan does not address the problem of a loss of identity which could result after merging such a large area as is covered by East Ren, Renfrewshire and Inverclyde.

East Renfrewshire council leader Jim Fletcher rejected the idea.

He told The Extra: “I am totally opposed to a merger with other Renfrewshire councils or any other council for that matter.

“I do not believe that East Renfrewshire citizens would benefit if we were to merge with any other council”.

New SNP councillor Vincent Waters was similarly unimpressed by Reform Scotland’s findings.

He told The Extra: “This think tank was arguing yesterday for more local democracy, and today it’s arguing for a return to regional councils.

“The truth is East Renfrewshire brings together a strong mix of communities, and the council is a solid performer when compared to much bigger councils, as every independent analysis has shown”.

But Conservative councillor Gordon Wallace, defended the report. He said: “The same Renewing Local Government report states that ‘Reform Scotland does not necessarily believe that 32 Councils is too many for Scotland’.

“Few could argue with their stance on bringing power closer to the taxpayer — although the suggestion that this could necessarily be achieved by reducing the number of councils is debatable”.