MY reason for buying today’s National was the headline about GERS. What incensed me was Kirsteen Paterson’s piece about letting town halls scrap council tax and devolve tax raising powers to them (Think tank calls for councils to have power over council tax, The National, August 22).

Councils are profligate. They are prone to ticking political boxes to curry favour with an electorate that can’t bring itself to support them, or else pandering to some commercial project that rides roughshod over others for some perceived benefit – personal or otherwise – to them.

Are there any councillors elected who achieved first vote support from even one-fifth of their electorate? Are there any councillors prepared to put their heads above the parapet to fight for our rights against profligate or commercially and politically driven councils? Not in my experience.

And aren’t they prone to wandering into pet schemes that no-one really wants, like blanket 20mph zones that are unpoliceable as well as unwanted, that costs taxpayers money and serve little purpose other than a political box ticked, a photo opportunity for councillors, and pandering to whatever populist lobby group claiming some green credential.

Isn’t the reality that our whole council structure is inefficient, overbearing and not fit for purpose? There are city states with a population more than twice that of the whole of Scotland that have a slimmer, more cost-effective and efficient city hall performance record than Scotland’s 32 councils.

We may be the best wee country in the world but we are subjected to 32 megalith council bodies, all performing the same functions that rationalisation would reap huge cost benefits for taxpayers and service users.

We don’t need 32 personnel, accounts, licensing and the myriad other departments that could be rationalised using the technology benefits readily available. We don’t need councils making wholly “local” decisions when we all have the same needs.

Why don’t we all have the same rules and standards already in this small country?

One of the first acts of devolution should have been to review the structure of this megalith. But the Scottish Parliament failed.

When the SNP assumed power, one of the first acts was to negotiate a concordat, with Cosla agreeing not to interfere with the structure. The arrogant inference was that failure to reach agreement would make it difficult for the SNP government to function.

Our council structure is woeful. It needs reform. However, council thinking is to give them the power to tax us more and everything will be fine. But, it wouldn’t matter how much money councils had to disburse. The more they have, the more spectacularly they will get it wrong and cost we taxpayers more.

Keep local taxation in the remit of the Scottish Parliament. Slash council bureaucracy through rationalisation. Slash the number of council “empires”. Slash the number of elected representatives and restrict them to only two terms of office. This will bring a fresher more honest approach, while removing the scourge of career politicians contaminating the process.

Give them more tax-raising powers. I know many weighing up whether we should be an independent country, throwing up their hands in horror at the prospect.
Jim Taylor