Reforming local government in Scotland

Kerley, Richard (1992) Reforming local government in Scotland. Quarterly Economic Commentary, 18 (2). pp. 61-66. ISSN 0306-7866

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The Government has recently published proposals for reorganising local government in Scotland. Launched under the title "The Structure of Local Government in Scotland - Shaping the New Councils' the document outlines current government thinking and suggests a number of options that might form the basis of a changed structure for local government. It invites responses from any interested parries and in effect should be seen as a cross between the traditional 'Green' Paper [consultative] and a 'White' Paper [legislative proposals]. The scope for comment is limited, as is the degree of consultation, and the time available for consultation, since the Secretary of State for Scotland makes it quite clear in his foreword that he has a determination to ensure that the new system of local government is based predominantly on single-tier or unitary local authorities. "I believe that the way forward lies in accountable, democratic, efficient and cost-effective single-tier authorities." This article outlines and discusses the background to the current debate about the structure of local government in Scotland. It does so by looking at the Government's initial proposals and commenting on those and then outlining the main themes of the recently published consultation paper and commenting on that. It concludes by suggesting alternative courses of action that might contribute to more effective and lasting legislative and institutional change.