Local Authorities and Councils
Local government in Scotland comprises 32 unitary local authorities, responsible for the provision of a range of public services. Local Authority areas reflect the geographical diversity within Scotland with wide variations in size (from 26 square miles in Dundee to 12,437 square miles in the Highlands and population (from under 20,000 people in the Orkney Islands Council area to over 600,000 in the Glasgow City Council area).
Each local authority is governed by a council. The council is made up of councillors directly elected by the residents in the population of the area they represent (referred to as a council ward). Each ward will have three or four councillors. In total, there are 1,222 elected councillors who are normally elected every 4 years (Legislation in 2009 moved local government to two consecutive five-year terms to decouple local government elections from elections to the Scottish Parliament). Councils in Scotland are autonomous bodies, independent of central government and are accountable to their electorates for the delivery of services.
Local authorities in Scotland co-operate through, and are represented collectively by, the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA)