Local government in ScotlandBefore 1975 local government in Scotland was organised on the county system. In 1975, the Conservative government of Edward Heath introduced a system of two-tier local government in Scotland, divided between large Regional Councils and smaller District Councils. The only exceptions to this were the three Island Councils, Western Isles, Shetland and Orkney which had the combined powers of Regions and Districts. In 1995 the Conservative government of John Major decided to abolish this system and merge their powers into new Unitary Authorities, roughly equivalent to the old counties.
The power invested in these authorities is administered by elected councillors. There are currently around 1,200 in total, each paid a part-time salary for the undertaking of their duties. Each authority elects a Provost to chair meetings of the authority's council and act as a figurehead for the area. The office of Provost is roughly equivalent to that of the English Mayor. The four main cities of Scotland, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Dundee have a Lord-Provost rather than a Provost, although their duties are essentially the same.
The councillors are elected every four years.
There are in total 32 Unitary Authorities, the largest being the City of Glasgow with more than 600,000 inhabitants, the smallest, Orkney, with less than 20,000 people living there.
For a list of the 32 Unitary Authorities, see: