• MySTV

Nationalists deny plans to merge local councils and health boards

SNP accused of 'power grabbing' after Kenny MacAskill said council numbers were 'not tenable'.

Aberdeenshire Council
Gary Cruden

The SNP has been accused of "power grabbing" after Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill reportedly said that the number of councils and health boards in Scotland is untenable.

But the Scottish Government denied it planned to merge any councils, saying it favours "closer service integration" and not structural reorganisation of public services.

The row comes after Mr MacAskill was asked at a police conference if it is right that Scotland should move to one police force but continue to have 32 local authorities and 14 health boards.

He replied that it was "not tenable" in the police and "it's not going to be tenable in other forms of public life", the Scotland on Sunday reported.

A spokesman for the Scottish Government said: "Our approach to reforming Scotland's public services involves all relevant partners working across organisational boundaries to deliver services which best meet people's needs.

"This does not rely on wholesale structural reorganisation. It is about ensuring services are consistently well designed and delivered by the right people to the right people.

"We are in favour of closer service integration where this will improve outcomes for local people and ensure longer term financial sustainability.

"Health boards are encouraged to work with each other where appropriate. For example, we are already working to fully integrate adult health and social care in Scotland and much of the NHS procurement contracts are negotiated on a national basis. We have no plans to merge local authorities."

But opposition parties called for the SNP to "come clean" about its plans for local government.

Willie Rennie, Scottish Liberal Democrat leader, said: "The SNP's vice-like grip on their message means that Kenny MacAskill would not have been permitted to talk about council mergers without approval from on high.

"This reveals that the SNP have a desire to centralise power.

"Fiddling with boundaries doesn't address the major challenges of climate change, demographic changes and big pockets of poverty. The SNP need to rule out mergers and centralisation and focus on the major challenges that Scotland faces."

Labour's Sarah Boyack said: "This looks like another power grab by the SNP. We know Scotland's local authorities are under huge financial pressure following the decision by the SNP Government to target 83% of its cuts at them.

"Labour-led local authorities are doing their best to use scarce resources to protect frontline services and deliver local accountability at a time when people are struggling in these tough economic times. But the SNP's underfunded council tax freeze has seen thousands of jobs go across Scotland.

"Now Kenny MacAskill has let the cat out of the bag. The SNP has to come clean about its plans for local government and how they will deal with the consequences of their choices."

One account. All of STV.

This field is required. That doesn't look like a valid e-mail format, please check. That e-mail's already in our system. Please try again.
Forgot password?
This field is required. At least 6 characters please. Did you enter your details correctly?
If you've forgotten your details then use the 'Forgot password?' link.
Need to reset your password?

We'll send a link to reset your password to

We've sent you details on how to reset your password

Please check your email and follow the instructions.

Forgotten your email address?

Have you forgotten the email address that you previously joined with? Don't worry, by emailing enquiries@stv.tv we can help.

One account. All of STV.

This field is required. Please enter at least 2 characters
This field is required. Please enter at least 2 characters
At least 6 characters please
This field is required. At least 6 characters please.
You have to be 16 or over to join
This field is required. This doesn't appear to be a valid date
Type your full postcode and select your address This field is required. It doesn't look like you've entered a valid postcode. Can't find your address? Confirm the details you've given us are correct by clicking here

By continuing you agree to our Terms of Use, including our Privacy Policy and Cookie Policy. Any issues contact us.

Upload Profile Picture

Please make sure your image is under 2mb in size and a valid JPG, PNG or GIF.

Are you sure?

Unfortunately, you'll be unable to access our premium content. We’ll be sorry to see you go, but if you change your mind you can rejoin us at any time.

Please verify your STV account

Please verify your STV account using the email we sent you. If you have lost the email, we can send you another one, just click the button below.


We've sent you a new verification email.
Please check your email and follow the instructions to verify your account.

Welcome to STV
Thanks for joining us.


Sorry, you must be at least 12 years old to place a vote for your Real Hero.

Please review our Voting Terms of Use for more information.


Sorry! It seems that you are using a browser that is incompatible with our voting service.

To register your vote please copy the below URL in to your regular mobile browser. We recommend Google Chrome, or Safari.



Sorry, you seem to have already voted in this category.

Thanks for voting

Now share your vote with friends on your social network

Share on twitter Share on facebook

Cast your vote

Please register or sign in to continue.

Cast your vote

This field is required. This doesn't appear to be a valid date

Cast your vote

Please fill out this form to cast your vote. As you are under 16 years old you will not create an STV account. Why do we need these details?

This field is required. Please enter at least 2 characters
This field is required. Please enter at least 2 characters
This field is required. That doesn't look like a valid e-mail format, please check.
Location This field is required.
Parental Consent This field is required.

That's you. All that's left is to click the 'Submit Vote' button below. By doing so, you confirm that you and your parent or guardian have read and accept our Voting Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Cookie policy, and that the details you have entered are correct. We'll look after them as carefully as if they were our own.