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Local councils in merger talks

22 June 2006

The local government map of Scotland could be redrawn again if talks between councils and Scottish Ministers bear fruit, acording to today's Scotsman.

Finance Minister Tom McCabe, who has responsibility for local government, revealed at a conference yesterday that he has been approached by officials and councillors from several of Scotland's 32 local authorities who would be willing to merge with their neighbours.

The three Ayrshire councils are understood to have led the move, though discussions have also taken place between Mid and West Lothian, and Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire. Stirling and Clackmannan are looking at a merger of administration while keeping the two councils separate.

Mr McCabe said that the public services map of Scotland was "unbelievably complex" and questioned whether a country of 5,000,000 people needed so many councils.

He also indicated that he is looking to cut the number of police authorities from the present eight. One force, Strathclyde, covers more than half the population.