COUNCIL bosses have handed over responsibility for deciding the future of the new Clyde bridge to the Scottish Government in a shock move.

Local politicians will have no say in the major infrastructure that could dramatically change life in the area.

No vote was ever taken on the bridge and unelected officers made the decision to back Renfrewshire Council, who are leading the project, to send it to Edinburgh.

Joe Henry, community councillor with Clydebank East Community Council, branded the process “undemocratic”.

He said: “We are talking about a huge increase in traffic from the bridge. Everybody is totally against it and they think it will affect Clyde Shopping Centre – it’s dying on its legs.

“It’s not looking too good for Clydebank. All the investment is on the other side of the river.

“It’s quite scary and not good for local democracy. Local decisions should be taken at a local level by the people who will be affected.”

Politicians are both for and against the bridge, the impact it will have and who should decide the issue.

Provost William Hendrie told the Post: “I’m hoping the government will look at it and come to the same conclusion that I have – I don’t think it would be a good thing for Clydebank.

“As I have said before, I see the footfall going to Braehead and I think that’s why Renfrewshire want to build it.

“I’m interested in our shopping centre and our residents.

“I think they have the feeling it may not get the vote [here] and it’s better going to the Scottish Government – but that’s only a theory.”

Cllr Marie McNair hit out: “I don’t support this decision as I feel this takes away local decision making, away from the heart of our communities.

“This decision should be taken at local authority level to allow the public to express their views.”

But Renfrewshire Council leader Iain Nicolson said “it’s right” that the Scottish Government determine the planning application for the Glasgow City Region City Deal Clyde Waterfront and Renfrew Riverside project.

He added: “This is a unique infrastructure project which straddles across three local authorities and it helps simplify the process.

“The project has the potential for significant economic regeneration across the City Region with increased potential for jobs and improved connections to opportunities for local communities and as such, this method of determination is the most effective approach.”

West Dunbartonshire hasn’t even finished transport or environmental impact studies on the effect on Clydebank, factors that the planning reporter will now have to consider.

The decision could still take months, though a confident press statement from Renfrewshire Council said they expect work to begin on the bridge in 2018.

Waterfront councillor Danny Lennie said it was a naked political move to ensure the SNP won either way.

He told the Post: “Given that a few of the SNP councillors are not huge fans of the bridge, taking it to the Scottish Government does take it out of their hands.

“If it is rejected, then they can say it was not them; if it is passed, they can make the same case – so win win.”

But his Clydebank Central Labour colleague, Cllr John Mooney, said the decision “made sense”.

He said: “I am very much in favour of the Clyde bridge and will make my views known to the reporter. It fits well into the plan to regenerate Clydebank. I do not anticipate any adverse effect on Clyde Shopping Centre.

“In fact, the regeneration on the waterfront should boost the economy of Clydebank generally.

“In my view, the council should use its new powers to lower business rates. It should also use its influence as a 19 per cent shareholder in the centre to lower rents.

“These two measures along with the regeneration of the waterfront and the Clyde bridge will give the Clyde Shopping Centre a new lease of life.”

Some public comments backing the bridge have been made by residents to the formal planning process. But other formal responses have raised questions.

Glasgow Airport said the bridge could “conflict with safeguarding criteria” and more assessment was needed. SEPA said they had no objection in principle but “significant concerns” about legal standards for surface water draining off the bridge.

A West Dunbartonshire Council spokesman said: “Renfrewshire Council has, in agreement with West Dunbartonshire and Glasgow City Councils, requested that the Scottish Government call in this planning decision to streamline the process. The Scottish Government has agreed to this request.”

A Glasgow City Council spokesman echoed this statement.

The Scottish Government confirmed they called in the applications at the request of the heads of planning of the councils.

A spokeswoman added: “An independent reporter will be appointed once all the relevant documentation has been forwarded by the respective councils.

"The reporter will then consider the proposed developments and report to Scottish ministers who will make the final decision on the applications.”