Jo Swinson and Ross Finnie MSP have made representations to the Boundary Commission opposing proposals that would see part of Bishopbriggs joining Glasgow City.
In letters to the Local Government Boundary Commission for Scotland, Jo Swinson and Ross Finnie have raised their objections to the plans which would mean 42 East Dunbartonshire households being reclassified as belonging to Glasgow City. The Boundary Commission published its provisional proposals last month, marking the beginning of a process of public consultation which runs until 6th August 2009. Jo Swinson and Ross Finnie submitted their views as part of this consultation and are encouraging others to do the same.
Ms Swinson and Mr Finnie visited residents of Wallace Drive, Wallace Gate and Wallace Place last month to hear their views on the proposals. Residents fear that if the boundary is moved to incorporate them into Glasgow, their children may have to move schools, the value of their homes will decline, council tax will increase and they will lose access to services provided by East Dunbartonshire Council. Jo Swinson and Ross Finnie have also written to the Chief Executive of East Dunbartonshire Council and the Minister for Parliamentary Business to raise their concerns.
Commenting, Jo Swinson said:
“The Bishopbriggs residents who would be affected by this move are understandably extremely concerned. There is no good reason why these proposals need to be implemented and unnecessary anxiety forced on the 42 families involved. Ross Finnie and I will continue to campaign against the plans and urge the Boundary Commission to conduct a full Local Inquiry, which would reveal the many good reasons why these proposals should be scrapped.”
Commenting, Ross Finnie said:
“In response to the huge public opposition to the proposals to change the council boundaries of Glasgow City and East Dunbartonshire, Jo Swinson and I have written to the Minister for Parliamentary Business, the Chief Executive of East Dunbartonshire Council and the Local Government Boundary Commission for Scotland in support of the objections by local residents. The Boundary Commission wants to apply the law retrospectively and assumes that issues such as access to the local school, house purchase prices and community connections are not relevant when it comes to determining administrative boundaries.”
Anyone wishing to submit their views to the Commission should do so by 6th August 2009, by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or writing to:
Local Government Boundary Commission for Scotland
3 Drumsheugh Gardens
A copy of Jo Swinson’s submission to the Boundary Commission appears below:
Mr Peter Mackay
Local Government Boundary Commission for Scotland
3 Drumsheugh Gardens,
Our ref: MM/JS45795 12 June 2009
Dear Mr Mackay,
Boundary Commission proposal to transfer Princes Gate, Bishopbriggs from East Dunbartonshire Council to Glasgow City Council
My colleague Ross Finnie MSP and I have, in recent months, been meeting with residents of Wallace Gate, Bishopbriggs who will be directly affected by the above proposal. Issues affecting these residents, including access to local schools, house price benefits and community connections do not, unfortunately, appear to have been considered by the Boundary Commission when undertaking this administrative review. You will be aware that the retrospective application of the law frequently results in unintended consequences and I believe this to be one such case.
Residents fear that if the boundary is moved to incorporate them into the Glasgow City Council area, their children may have to move schools, the value of their homes will decline, council tax will increase and they will lose access to services provided by East Dunbartonshire Council. Owners of affected properties bought their homes based on their location within East Dunbartonshire. As local government boundaries tend to correlate with Parliamentary boundaries, the proposed change would also potentially eject affected residents from their current Parliamentary constituency at a future Parliamentary Boundary Review. This would further cement the feeling of being cut off from their established communities and the ties associated with them.
Those who bought properties in the affected area may well have looked forward to the prospect of re-establishing or continuing family and other community ties with Bishopbriggs. They will also have looked at the nature and suitability of the schools including the reputation enjoyed by East Dunbartonshire Council for the delivery of very high educational attainment. The buyers of these houses paid a premium, determined by the market, for the advantages associated with living in East Dunbartonshire.
The Local Government Boundary Commission for Scotland’s website states that boundaries shall be altered only with “consideration of any local ties which would be broken by fixing any particular boundary”. This statement must be adhered to when determining the outcome of this proposal.
In 2002, George Wimpey (West Scotland Ltd) submitted a request to the Boundary Commission for a review of the administrative boundary, knowing that the planned residential development would straddle two local authority areas. Throughout the planning and building of the Princes Gate development between 2002 and 2005, neither of the affected local authorities sought a boundary review. There appears to have been no need for a review until now.
There are other examples of boundary change proposals which have similar circumstances to the one in question here. In 1987, the Boundary Commission concluded that the boundary between City of Glasgow Council and Strathkelvin District Council at Colston Road and Auchinairn Road in Bishopbriggs was anomalous. City of Glasgow Council’s preferred boundary line would have adhered to identifiable features, but this was considered “less than satisfactory because it would divide facing properties within the same community”. The Commissioner’s report in this case often made reference to the need for keeping established communities together. It determined areas which were connected with Bishopbriggs as part of the community, such as Southview Terrace, and kept them in the Strathkelvin area.
It is surely wrong that the rights acquired in good faith can simply be swept away as an administrative convenience. As parliamentary boundaries would also change, affected residents would be ejected from their current parliamentary constituency area, losing the community ties associated with it. It appears here that administrative convenience is being taken into account by the Commission, not communities and their needs. Therefore I strongly urge you to conclude that in the circumstances, the boundary should not be moved at all. The current boundary is not causing any problem to local government, residents or elected representatives, and no convincing case has been made for this change.
Many thanks for your consideration of this matter and I look forward to hearing from you at your earliest convenience.
Jo Swinson MP