History of Local Government in Scotland

Prior to 1929, local government consisted largely of Royal Burghs, small towns and villages that organised basic services within communities. Scottish local government was first reorganised in 1929, when a complex structure consisting of five kinds of local government area was established.

It remained unchanged until 1975, following the report of the Wheatley Commission. The Commission's proposals were reflected in the Local Government (Scotland) Act 1973. Post 1975, Scottish local government became a two-tier system, consisting of 9 Regional Councils, 53 District Councils and 3 all-purpose island councils (Western Isles, Shetland and Orkney).

Today's Scottish local government structure was the result of the 1996 reorganisation, the legislative basis for which was The Local Government (Scotland) Act 1994. The 1996 reorganisation resulted in the 9 regions and 53 districts being abolished, although the 3 island councils remained unchanged. The district councils and regional councils were replaced with 29 single tier (or unitary) bodies to provide a more economic, cohesive, accountable and effective system. All 32 councils are responsible for delivering services such as education, leisure and recreation, planning and building standards, social services, housing, street cleaning, and refuse collection.