Plans to reduce Scottish councils could be shelved

Radical proposals to dramatically cut the number of Scottish councils and senior managers across all departments could be shelved.

Scottish Finance and Public Sector Reform Minister Tom McCabe indicated a consultation paper on the proposals which was due for publication imminently, has been put on the back burner until after the summer at the earliest and may not be published at all.

Speaking at the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities annual conference, McCabe said it was still his “intention” to publish the paper but that he was concerned it could be misinterpreted and used to drive political agendas.

“I’m increasingly worried about the publication of a piece of paper that allows a range of different people to see shadows within it that don’t exist and therefore cloud the important debate we need to have.  It’s important that doesn’t happen.

“I’m reflecting on it and over the course of the year will actively promote a dialogue with the public and political and professional representatives,” he said.

The paper is rumoured to include plans to cut  the number of councils from 32 to 15, but McCabe denied there was a “blue print or hidden agenda”.

At last year’s conference McCabe warned that unless local authorities entered discussions on identifying areas of collaboration to produce savings ministers would impose measures to do so.  He said not every council necessarily needed a chief executive or social work director.

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