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Scots Parliament urged not to interfere in transport plans

NEWS

LOCAL AUTHORITY transport planners want members of the new Scottish Parliament to tighten up controls over the country's water boards and health trusts rather than interfere in their work.

'There is a danger that the Scottish Parliament will not only want to hold the purse strings but also to deliver transport schemes, thereby taking over powers from local authorities. Ultimately this could lead to centralisation and remoteness,' warned Edinburgh City Council head of special projects Alex MacAulay.

'Scotland will be heavily governed and the chances are that there will be a tightening up of political responsibility,' he added.

'I think the target should be quangos such as the three water boards and the health trusts. They need to be more transparent. If they get it wrong they are not directly accountable to an electorate.'

Edinburgh City Council head of transport and communications Keith Rimmer said: 'There will be 56 members of the Scottish Parliament without a constituency.

'Because they are not tied to the grind of constituency representation they are going to have more time to look at new things such as the functions of local authorities.'

The Scottish Parliament will have 129 MSPs of which only 73 will have constituencies. The remaining 56 will be elected on a proportional basis from party lists drawn up for each of the current eight European Parliament constituencies and will not represent constituencies directly.

The 129 MSPs are on top of the 50 Scottish MPs who will remain in the Westminster parliament.

Scotland's local authority budget in 1999-2000 is £5.4bn from a total Scottish Office budget of £14.7bn.

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