Reshaping Local Authorities
The Wheatley system was never fully accepted by Conservative Party activists, with discontent particularly acute in areas where power bases had been lost through subjugation in a larger regional authority — for example, in Ayr and Edinburgh. Stodart’s review of 1982 was precluded from any proposals which would threaten the viability of either tier of local government. The result was a ‘pressure simply ignored and left to flounder by Malcolm Rifkind’ (Kerley, 1992, p. 27). However, Thatcher’s fall and the Heseltine review in England gave a new impetus to reform. The new Scottish Secretary, Ian Lang, gave the first indication of a commitment to structural reform in an address to COSLA’s annual conference in March 1991, in which he advocated the replacement of the two-tier system with a single-tier system, creating stronger, more effective authorities and clearer accountability, and said that the new financing arrangements post-community charge required capping, and local authorities would find accountability to the UK government more rigorous than local accountability.
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