The government initiatives outlined include:
- holding council meetings at different locations
- statutory committees with decision-making powers for specific areas within a council's boundary
The guidance, subject to consultation, stems from the legal power in the local government reform legislation which requires the new councils to prepare schemes to decentralise their activities by April 1, 1997.
Mr Kynoch said:
'The view that councils are remote from local people was held by many who responded to our 1992 consultation paper on local government reform. We acted on this desire for decentralisation by including a specific provision in the legislation.
'The guidance I have issued today underlines further our commitment to fostering closer links between the councils and those they serve.
'The guidance outlines a range of initiatives to enhance local democracy and encourage public participation. It is not prescriptive: the Government is not telling councils what they should or should not do.
'It is for individual councils to gauge the views of local people and decide, in the light of the particular circumstances of their area, how to make the most of the opportunities offered by decentralisation.'
Comments on the draft guidance must be submitted to The Scottish Office by May 31, 1995.
The Local Government etc (Scotland) Act 1994 provides the statutory framework for the reorganisation of local government in Scotland. Section 23 of the Act requires each council to prepare a draft decentralisation scheme with proposals for the administration of its functions across the whole of the authority's area.
Councils must complete public consultation on their proposed schemes before April 1, 1997, and then submit details of the schemes to the Secretary of State.