The end of East Renfrewshire Council?

If the findings of the study was adopted, Greater Glasgow Council would be the largest in Britain.
If the findings of the study was adopted, Greater Glasgow Council would be the largest in Britain.

East Renfrewshire Council should be combined with other local authorities in an effort to save money and boost efficiency.

That is according to a study carried out by the University of Sheffeld that looked at reducing the number of council areas which would see the creation of Greater Glasgow, which would be Britain’s largest local authority.

The new council would combine East Renfrewshire with Renfrewshire, East and West Dunbartonshire and the city of Glasgow.

Just 7.8 per cent of the population of the new Greater Glasgow area is East Renfrewshire.

Researchers used commuting data and an algorithm called Combo, which groups together places with the strongest ties, using a set of rules.

And instead of the current set of 32 Scottish council areas, it ended up with 17.

On discussing the paper and its findings, the authors said: “We should emphasise that these are not proposals for new council areas. Instead, we hope our results offer decision-makers some useful evidence on where boundaries could be drawn, if they were based on travel to work patterns.

“Of course, commuting is only one part of the story.

“But it’s a very important part, particularly in places such as Glasgow, where the local economy is highly dependent on commuters living in other areas.

“Overall, we think the results are largely plausible. But they also show that when it comes to drawing boundaries on maps, algorithms definitely shouldn’t have the last word – not least because they don’t have what we might call common sense.

Councillor Tony Buchanan, leader of East Renfrewshire Council, said: “East Renfrewshire’s size allows us to maintain a close relationship with the communities we serve. We support the aims of the Scottish Government’s Local Governance Review which should empower East Renfrewshire and our communities to make more decisions locally whilst continuing to expand the remit of regional bodies such as the City Deal.

“East Renfrewshire has benefited by working closely with partner councils through the City Deal to develop the economy of the Glasgow City Region and projects in our area worth £44 million now have strategic approval.

“We should be empowered to build on this blended approach where we have significantly expanded our efforts to work both locally and regionally. Democratic representation could be further improved by reversing the decision to reduce the number of elected members in East Renfrewshire from 20 to 18.”