Springwell is in Blantyre!

 

1978 Burnside 1 wm

1978 Burnside Crescent

Appalled at recently finding out Blantyre’s boundaries had been changed, I’ve found a story that took place around the start of this carry on. The events take place after the 1975 abolishment of civil parishes and the loss of Blantyre’s long standing boundaries.

In March 1979, Strathclyde Regional Council proposed to change Blantyre’s boundaries. In particular the council wanted to remove the area of Springwells from Blantyre, and place it under the control of Hamilton East, an area well below the average voters. The council suggested that highly populated Blantyre was 11 percent above the average for an area of that size, but councillors and especially Springwells residents were having NONE of it!

The matter involved the complex splitting up of Blantyre Parish into wards. However, residents in Springwell, most definitely had no doubts about their identity and feeling an intense belonging to Blantyre, wished no part in being part of Hamilton, whether it suited the council or not.

Springwells Tenant’s Association sent a letter to the Secretary of State for Scotland adding “We are Blantyre. We always have been. We always will be.” MP Maurice Millar said that he had discussed the matter with the local branch of the Labour Party, who also opposed the idea.

Mr Millar went on to say, “Blantyre is a relatively small place and it seems ridiculous to take parts of it and put it into another community. This messing about of wards and boundaries has to stop and is making a mockery of Blantyre’s boundaries, unchanged for many centuries.”

Regional Councillor, Malcolm Waugh said, “It lies with the Secretary of State now. Churches, schools, youth organisations are all tied to Springwells. Where will this end? I have to say that High Blantyre ward is also very vulnerable, especially in the upper areas of Sydes [Brae] and Auchentibber.”

Blantyre Community Council were also appalled, collecting large petitions to send to Mr. Millan at the Scottish Office. They gained huge support to avoid the changes. A Community Council spokesperson said in 1979, “We see Blantyre as a community and don’t want to see it partitioned. The reclassification of boundaries has already caused problems in the discussions for a dedicated RC Secondary School and now this latest move to carve out Springwells has met equal opposition.”

The matter WAS considered and Springwells got to remain in Blantyre, but subsequent years saw the area of Whistleberry being lost to Hamilton as well as large portions of housing and industry in High Blantyre.

Even today, ward boundaries can chop and change on an annual basis, depending on the outcome of each review. Pictured is Burnside Crescent, Springwells slightly earlier in 1978.

Researched for the book, “Blantyre Explained” by Paul Veverka (c) 2018

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  1. Paul, some years ago on one of my trips back and being driven to East Kilbride, I was amazed to see a large sign at a roundabout stating HAMILTON TECHNOLOGY PARK.
    This got me angered because the sign was in High Blantyre. I expressed that it would seem Blantyre was not good enough to put on the sign. Now I know the real reason.
    I am very proud of the residents of Springwell for fighting back and retaining their residencies and isentities in Blantyre. How were the other bounderies changed without a fight?
    We have similar moves in USA which I find appalling. “Re-zoning” as it is known here is all about analysing demographics and redrawing zones on the basis of voting likelihoods.
    I did not know it also happened at local level in Scotland. Billy Connolly got it right…..”anyone having the desire to become a politician should automatically be barred from ever becoming one”.
    I don’t want to bring politics to The Blantyre Project, but ignoring citizens to facilitate self and group power is simply WRONG. People are voted into positions to take care of their people, not their party.
    So what can the citizens of Blantyre do to regain their “politically stolen” territory?

    1. “How were the other bounderies changed without a fight?”….quite simply Archie. The Boundaries Commission was set up, meaning no public consultation was needed. The Commission just went ahead, as they still do and review it annually, making the changes to boundaries without public input. It has outraged communities across Scotland as issues don’t manifest until it takes something like new business to wonder which town they’re in. In infuriates me and means on paper at least Blantyre’s boundaries and identity is ebbing and flowing like annual tides. I have to admit, as an observation, young people especially have simply accepted anything over the new motorway is now Hamilton, which due to the fault of the boundaries commission makes a mockery of places like Blantyre Park, Priestfield Cemetery, the site of the Blantyre Disaster, Blantyre Muir, Auchintibber, Sydes Brae and Whistleberry now being recognised as being in Hamilton! (Blantyre Community Council cannot intervene in these areas, having to let community matters there now be managed by Hamilton Community groups!). Shocking.

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