ONE of Scotland’s smallest regions has been named among the UK’s most ‘most prosperous areas’, with the country’s biggest city languishing near the bottom of the rankings.
In the first report of its kind, the UK Prosperity Index has explored factors including wealth, education, health, crime and the natural environment to draw up a league table of Britain’s most flourishing neighbourhoods.
East Dunbartonshire, which includes the affluent suburbs of Bearsden, Milngavie, Bishopbriggs and Lenzie, has placed ninth in the pecking order - on a par with Waverley Borough and Mole Valley in Surrey, Winchester, St Albans and Chiltern in Buckinghamshire.
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The only other Scottish authorities in the top 100 were East Renfrewshire at 16th and Shetland in 84th.
But the study, by prominent international think tank The Legatum Institute, ranks Glasgow, which borders East Dunbartonshire, 376 placings below its well-heeled neighbour.
The only other areas ranked below Glasgow in the hierarchy of least prosperous local authority areas were Nottingham, Blackpool, Middlesbrough and Kingston-upon-Hull.
The think tank, which produces a similar annual report for countries around the world, said UK cities were failing to exploit economic growth to create more enriching lives for residents.
Highlighting that life chances - which it calculated by including health, social capital, education levels, wellbeing, and sense of opportunity - were “the best predictor of whether a local area is delivering a prosperity surplus”, the report states: “Local government needs to be given greater social powers to help spark prosperity.”
Harriet Maltby, UK Prosperity Index, author said Scotland had the greatest range of prosperity performance of any part of the UK.
“East Dunbartonshire is one of the best performing areas nationally in turning wealth into better lives for its people,” she said. “Overall, it ranks an impressive ninth, with very strong society, good education, and low crime. Strong society is a common theme in Scottish prosperity.”
The report found East Dunbartonshire ranked second in the UK for quality of education, with East Renfrewshire topping the table.
Twelve of Scotland’s 32 councils ranked in the bottom quarter of prosperous areas, and all but eight in the bottom half.
The report adds: “The pace of devolution in the social sphere has not kept pace with the economic.”
But David Bell, professor of economics at Stirling University and a Fellow of the Centre on Constitutional Change, raised questions over the limitations of subjective notions of prosperity and cross-border comparisons used by Legatum and how these influenced overall rankings.
Questioning the low status of Glasgow in the index, he said: “What I would really like to see is how they put the data together and what data they used to say that these are legitimate comparisons?”
A spokesman for Scotland’s main local government organisation, Cosla, said: “This research is essential reading for anyone interested in transforming prosperity in Scotland’s local communities.
“It’s further evidence that the 50 year trend in centralising local services has had its time, and that new thinking is now required.”