Laura Sharman 22 May 2012

Think-tank calls for ‘fewer but stronger’ councils in Scotland

Scotland should have less councils that have greater powers, according to think-tank Reform Scotland.

Reform Scotland has called for the number of councils in Scotland to be reduced from 32 to 19, and proposes the abolition of 14 health boards and eight police boards with their functions handed to councils.

The think-tank argues that these proposals - in response to the poor turnout at this month’s local elections – would ‘bring power closer to the people’. In its Renewing Local Government report, Reform Scotland also proposes the election of mayors and the devolution of local taxes.

Reform Scotland’s chairman Ben Thomson said: ‘It is clear that, for whatever reason, a great number of people find the existence of 32 councils to be unpalatable. It is certainly the case that there is too much confusion caused by the inconsistent number of councils, police boards and health boards, and by making these boundaries the same and making local authorities more responsible for these essential services we will take a big step in the right direction.

‘Britain is a heavily centralised nation. Devolution has been limited, and it has stopped at Holyrood. Indeed, the Scottish Parliament has reversed devolution by sucking up Council powers. This has to stop. For Scotland’s good, we’re calling on everyone to work together to renew local government.’

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