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PARLIAMENT APPROVES ELECTIONS ACT

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The Scottish Local Government (Elections) Act completed the last stage of its parliamentary process today when it r...
The Scottish Local Government (Elections) Act completed the last stage of its parliamentary process today when it received parliamentary approval.

The Act cancels next year's council elections and changes the length of terms of local authorities from three to four years and combines further local government elections with elections to the Scottish parliament from May 2003.

Local authorities will also be able to run pilot schemes at local government elections aimed at improving voter turnout and making the administration of elections more efficient.

For example, this could mean organising voting on more than one day and at places other than formal polling stations.

The Act will come into effect following royal assent, which is due to be given at the end of January/early February.

Deputy minister for finance and public services, Peter Peacock said:

'This Bill represents an important step forward in strengthening local government and the local mandate of councils. The move to four year terms for councils will allow them to take a longer-term strategic view and measured decisions.

'Coincident elections strengthen the legitimacy of councils ensuring that the turnout at council elections is increased. They will also offer an equal legitimacy in electoral terms between the parliament and local government. Pilot schemes offer councils a welcome opportunity to test new electoral procedures to improve both administration and turnout.

'This is a small but important Bill which contributes to the strengthening of local democracy in Scotland.'

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