Too big to be local, too small to be strategic? Scotland's Councils and the question of local government boundary reform

Rae, Alasdair and Hamilton, Ruth and Faulds, Allan (2019) Too big to be local, too small to be strategic? Scotland's Councils and the question of local government boundary reform. Fraser of Allander Economic Commentary, 43 (1). ISSN 2046-5378

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    Abstract

    Only a very brave politician would broach the subject of local government boundary reform. Like the Council Tax, it is one of those subjects that everyone agrees is important, but probably just too difficult to do anything about. For sure, we can tinker at the margins and tweak this and that, but it is not going to win many votes. But we are not politicians, and we believe there is value in looking at the question of whether the boundaries we use to govern Scotland are a good fit. Therefore, this paper looks at the question of whether Scotland’s current Councils are the right political geography for governing Scotland and how they compare to those in other countries. We also set out two alternative administrative geographies. One of these is based on economic interactions, and the other is based on existing wards. However, these are not concrete proposals but are instead intended to prompt further reflection on the shape of local democracy in Scotland: a subject which spans economics, history, geography, identity, belonging and topography.