Magazine article Public Finance

Scottish Councils Face Reappraisal of Their Role

Magazine article Public Finance

Scottish Councils Face Reappraisal of Their Role

Article excerpt

First Minister Jack McConnell hinted at the prospect of a reorganisation of local government in Scotland as local authorities set council tax levels with an average rise of 3.3%.

Tax figures for 2006-07 ranged from a surprise freeze in Glasgow, Scotland's biggest council, to almost 5% in four council areas.

On the day that the figures were being announced, McConnell was asked in the Scottish Parliament whether he agreed that after almost seven years of devolution a reappraisal of the role, function and accountability of local government was overdue. 'That time might be fast approaching,' he replied.

His comment comes when the Scottish Executive is already examining the possibility of merging a number of councils for the provision of certain services, such as education.

A paper seeking views on changes that could also result in a reorganisation of health boards, local enterprise companies and other public bodies is due to be published within the next few weeks.

A full-scale reorganisation would mirror those being contemplated in England and Wales in the wake of the Lyons review, and that already proceeding in Northern Ireland.

The refusal of most of Scotland's 32 unitary councils to limit council tax increases to 2. …

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