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Councils warn of 'unintended consequences' of reform

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Scotland’s councils have urged the country’s four main parties to drop “ill-considered” local government reforms after Thursday’s elections.

Pat Watters (Lab), president of the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities, said councils would object in particular to losing control of social care to the NHS, and the forced merger of fire and police authorities.

Elections take place on 5 May for Scotland’s parliament. Its 32 councils have been given an extra year in office so that the two sets of elections no longer coincide, following chaos involving multiple counting systems in 2007.

Cllr Watters said:  “My challenge to whichever party leader that may be [in power] is to work with local government as an equal partner. Only by doing that can they make a long term impact on the many social issues Scotland faces.”

He said many ideas that surfaced on all sides during the campaign had “not been fully thought out, and will do little to deliver the improvement that people expect”, adding “we have spoken out because we have a duty to protect communities from the unintended consequences that could arise.” 

Cllr Watters explained: “In particular, we questioned proposals to take social care out of the control of local communities by giving it to the NHS in whatever form; and we argued that amalgamating the police and fire and rescue authorities into a single structure would reduce local democratic accountability [as] the same efficiencies could be achieved without restructuring.

“These are the wrong proposals at the wrong time.”

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