Every now and then a debate crops up locally regarding the political status of Rutherglen and Cambuslang. Should they remain distinct South Lanarkshire towns, or should they be re-incorporated into Glasgow?
For me, there is no debate. I‘m strongly of the opinion that both towns are far better served in South Lanarkshire due to their own unique and distinct histories. For over 800 years Rutherglen has been a Royal Burgh in its own right, debatably Scotland’s oldest, and until 1975 it had its own local council. Growing up in Rutherglen, I’m well aware of the controversy when, along with Cambuslang, it joined the City of Glasgow District Council in an arrangement which lasted for a full 21 years before the towns joined the newly established South Lanarkshire Council.
Our relationship with Glasgow has certainly changed over the last few decades, and in my opinion, the current situation ensures that Rutherglen and Cambuslang are no longer a political afterthought. Now, they are areas whose voices are heard loudly and authoritatively at the local authority’s HQ in Almada Street.
Politically, culturally and economically we haven’t and shouldn’t need to rely on Glasgow for our prosperity. However, that’s not to say we can’t and don’t benefit from it being a close neighbour.
Over the summer, I was delighted to attend a number of European Championship events in the city, both in a personal capacity and whilst representing the Scottish Government as a Minister. It was an exciting tournament which created a real buzz not only at the multiple venues, but throughout Glasgow as a cultural festival was also held to coincide with the sports.
Having this on our doorstep allowed my Rutherglen and Cambuslang constituents to easily attend, volunteer and enjoy the European Championships, however I also hope that it had a positive effect on our local economy. I believe that when Glasgow does well Rutherglen and Cambuslang can do well too, but we could be better at promoting our local areas.
As readers of the Rutherglen Reformer will be aware, I’ve recently begun a campaign working with stakeholders to try and attract more people to my Rutherglen constituency. I’ve been in contact with constituents, community councils and local businesses – particularly those in the hospitality, catering and leisure sectors – and spoke at a recent Rutherglen and Cambuslang Business Exchange event to see how we can work collaboratively to promote local places of interest.
Rutherglen and Cambuslang are home of numerous award-winning restaurants, first-class parks such as Cuningar Loop and Holmhills Wood, and places of real historical significance, so we should be shouting from the rooftops to attract more visitors. We have little gems right across the constituency that people don’t know about because, in my opinion, they aren’t well advertised or even advertised at all, whilst tourism authorities like VisitScotland and VisitLanarkshire could be doing more – something which I recently highlighted at Parliament.
Of course, some of our local venues and attractions are already doing well and bring a substantial number of people to the area which they deserve great credit for. However, I hope by working together we can help those who have no voice and those with lesser or no resources.
With Glasgow as a noisy neighbour, we should never be silent in celebrating Rutherglen and Cambuslang.