Scotland’s councils are some of the least “local” in Europe and lag behind England in terms of voters per councillor, a study has found.
The Electoral Reform Society (ERS) found that while England has an average of 2,814 people per councillor, Norway 572 and Denmark 2,216, the average councillor in Scotland has to look after 4,155 constituents.
The ERS is calling for an overhaul of local democracy in the next session of the Scottish Parliament, saying councils have become too remote from the communities they serve.
As well as larger populations, Scotland’s local authorities also tend to have larger geographical areas.
The ERS says the average local authority in Scotland has an area of 2,434.7 sq km – while the EU average is 50 sq km.
Permanent citizens’ assemblies at a local level could be part of the solution, the ERS says.
Willie Sullivan, director of ERS Scotland, said: “These stark findings cast a light on just how distant many ‘local’ councils sadly are, following years of centralisation.
“Councillors have an incredibly tough job, representing thousands of people, with ever-increasing caseloads.
“It’s not fair on voters or their representatives that these mega-councils often feel remote and separate from their communities.
“That’s why we need to see ambitious reform to give citizens a far stronger voice in their areas.”
He continued: “We need an ambitious Local Democracy Bill, that makes it easy for people to take power back to where they are.
“We’ve already seen them work and citizens’ assemblies could transform democracy.
“There’s a real appetite for people to get involved, to have a proper stake in running their areas.”