Local Government (Scotland) Act 1973

Local Government (Scotland) Act 1973

The Local Government (Scotland) Act 1973 (1973 c. 65) is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom, that reformed local government in Scotland, on May 16, 1975.

The Act followed and largely implemented the report of the Royal Commission on Local Government in Scotland in 1969 (the Wheatley Report) and it made the most far-reaching changes in Scottish local government in a century or more. It swept away the counties, large burghs and small burghs and districts established by the Local Government (Scotland) Act 1947, [Local Government (Scotland) Act, 1947] and replaced it by a uniform two-tier system of regional and district councils (except in the islands, which were given unitary, all-purpose councils).

In England and Wales, the Local Government Act 1972 established a similar system of two-tier administrative county and district councils.

The Act

The Act abolished previous existing local government structures, and created a two-tier system of regions and districts on the mainland and a unitary system in the islands. Although called two-tier, the system was really three-tier, as it allowed for the formation of community councils. The Act also established the Local Government Boundary Commission for Scotland, with the remit to make proposals to the Secretary of State for effecting changes which it thought desirable in the interests of effective and convenient local government.

The new local government areas


Several districts were later renamed : Merrick becoming Wigtown, Argyll to Argyll and Bute, Bishopbriggs and Kirkintilloch to Strathkelvin, Cumbernauld to Cumbernauld and Kilsyth, and Lanark to Clydesdale.

Reaction and aftermath

Unlike the 1972 Local Government Act in England and Wales, the 1973 Act in Scotland used the term "region" for the upper tier of the two-tier system. This has caused far less confusion over the identity of the counties in Scotland. Despite the Act stipulating that the regions and not counties should be shown on Ordnance Survey maps, the counties still enjoy wide public recognition. Even though they no longer play any direct part in local government, they are used in many other systems: The Royal Mail continued to use them as postal counties; They are also used as the basis of the Watsonian vice-counties, registration counties and many of the Lieutenancy areas of Scotland are based on them.

However the sheer size of some regions meant that it became cumbersome to administer all functions on a region wide basis. By 1977 Strathclyde Regional Council had established unelected Sub-Regional Councils. The sub-regions ironically mirrored the counties that Strathclyde replaced.

The two-tier system of local government introduced by the act lasted until 1 April 1996 when the Local Government etc. (Scotland) Act 1994 came into effect, abolishing the regions and districts and replacing them with 32 unitary authorities.

ee also

*Local Government etc. (Scotland) Act 1994
*Subdivisions of Scotland


*Local Government (Scotland) Act 1973
*Royal Commission on Local Government in Scotland, 1969

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