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SCOTTISH BILL SHOWS NO LET UP

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The first reading last week of the Bill to reorganise Scottish local government revealed that the government has ma...
The first reading last week of the Bill to reorganise Scottish local government revealed that the government has made no concessions on its plans to create 28 unitary authorities in Scotland.

The Bill's 169 clauses also reveal unchanged proposals to transfer water and sewerage responsibilities to three new water authorities, despite repeated calls for the matter to be put to a public referendum.

But for the first time the government has given an indication of the areas to be covered by the new water authorities.

Publication of the Local Government etc (Scotland) Bill was immediately greeted by opposition pledges to fight its provisions line by line as it passes through the House of Commons.

And the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities last week wrote to Prime Minister John Major submitting details of a survey which found 95% of Scottish people wanted water and sewerage services to remain in council control.

It also revealed 82% were prepared to take part in a referendum on the issue.

The reorganisation Bill proposes an eastern water authority covering Lothian, Central, Fife and the Borders. A western authority will cover Strathclyde and Dumfries and Galloway while the northern authority will cover Grampian, Tayside, Highland and the three island council areas.

The Bill also paves the way for the setting up of a Staff Commission, a Property Commission and other residuary bodies deemed necessary to oversee the creation of the new unitary structure.

It stipulates that reorganisation, excluding setting up the new water bodies, will cost between £120 million-£196m.

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