CONTROVERSIAL proposals to merge council services in West Dunbartonshire with neighbouring Glasgow have met with strong opposition.

A study carried out by the University of Sheffield supports the creation of a new “super council” in a bid to save cash and boost efficiency.

The academic paper suggests combining East Dunbartonshire, West Dunbartonshire and Renfrewshire and East Renfrewshire with the city of Glasgow to create Greater Glasgow, which would be Britain’s largest local authority.

That recommendation would be part of an overall move to reduce the number of local authorities in Scotland from 32 to 17.

However, Councillor Jonathan McColl, leader of West Dunbartonshire Council, said he would be deeply concerned with any proposal to merge councils.

He told the Post: “As a small local authority, West Dunbartonshire is well placed to respond to the needs of individuals in our communities.

“Closer working and shared services between councils will provide better efficiency without the need to damage local flexibility or to erode democratic accountability through the creation of huge regions.”

Gil Paterson MSP said: “I believe, in principle, that small is beautiful, a monster of that size would be unwieldy.

“There is a value in democracy and statistics show that we already have the biggest local authorities in Europe.”

Jackie Baillie MSP agreed: “People like their services delivered at a local level and they like their councillors accountable to the local community that they serve.

“I think this is a case of small is beautiful rather than a massive local authority which could be remote from the people it served.”

Meanwhile, councillors in both Renfrewshire and East Renfrewshire have also criticised the idea, fearing the recommendations would harm local government in Scotland and would leave them with poorer democratic accountability.

Councillor Kenny MacLaren, who represents Paisley Northwest, said: “They go against the European norm of smaller, more responsive and powerful local government.

“Every so often some bright spark comes out with the idea of sticking councils together but the savings never come.

Councillor Tony Buchanan, leader of East Renfrewshire Council, stressed their size allows close relationship with the communities it serves.

He said: “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.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “We have no plans to change council boundaries. Instead, the local governance review asks public service partners to propose alternative decision-making arrangements at council level or more regionally.

“Proposals will be considered in light of their potential to improve outcomes in communities and grow Scotland’s economy.”