By Simon Johnson
The number of Scotland’s local authorities should be cut by almost half but the remainder should have the power to introduce their own replacements for council tax, a think tank says today.
Reform Scotland has recommended that there should be only 19 councils north of the Border instead of the current 32 and they should also be responsible for providing health services. It has also been suggested local authorities be allowed to hold referendums on introducing directly elected mayors or provosts.
Ben Thomson, Reform’s chairman, said the changes were required because the Scottish Parliament has “reversed devolution by sucking up council powers” and this was reflected in low voter turnout for the recent local authority elections.
“These 19 councils would be responsible for far more than our current councils and would also have greater financial powers, enabling policies to be put in place that take account of local needs and circumstances,” he said.
A spokesman for the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities said: “This is a disappointing report in which some of the thinking is wooly and piecemeal.”