A NEW report has called for more power for local councils.

The report was produced after a year long study by the Commission on Strengthening Local Democracy.

The Report, which claims to be independent, was commissioned and established through the auspices of Cosla, the Consortium of Scottish Local Authorities.

Among many recommendations in the Report, is a proposal to raise most of the money that councils spend, from local taxes.

Clearly, this report is not independent, it was undertaken on behalf of local government.

In my experience Cosla doesn't work very well.

Also, there are many councils in Scotland, which don't work very well.

Many councils work in silos, are overly bureaucratic and beset by the difficulties of local party politics.

Since Devolution, there has been a considerable centralisation of local services to Holyrood, police and fire among them.

I therefore find myself, somewhat strangely, in agreement with the Report on this issue.

The report argues that Scotland has had a 50 year flirtation with centralisation, which ultimately has failed.

The idea is that local government will be responsible for the delivery of more services and would receive significantly less money from the Scottish Government.

In turn, local councils would raise some 60% of their income through a local tax mechanism.

The report is keen to point out that this doesn't mean more tax, it just means we pay our taxes in a different way.

If Cosla could do what it's supposed to do, and councils could restructure and operate in a more efficient way, I would support such a fundamental change.

Until they do however, the proposal to raise and spend 60% of their income, is likely to prove unpopular.

Indeed, during the Alex Salmond/Alistair Darling debate, our First Minister said: "Who better to run our affairs than the people who live here."

Of course, he meant Scotland, rather than local councils, however, the same principle applies.

If Cosla wants more services and more financial authority, it has to clearly demonstrate that the provision of local government services are fit for purpose, in my opinion they are not quite there.

IN the last few days, the voting intentions of women in the independence referendum have came under increased focus.

We have known, for some time, that a smaller proportion of women, than men, support independence.

The latest poll on voting intentions show that some 39% of men support independence, while only 27% of women do.

So why the 12% gap?

It would seem that in similar referendums in both Québec and Catalonia, that a smaller percentage of women support change, rather than the status quo.

It would appear that the reticence of women, in relation to independence, is based on uncertainty.

Many women remain uncertain of the outcome of independence, on a number of areas important to them. Women are also intuitively more cautious than men and are less likely to have their voting intentions, influenced by nationalism.

The First Minister has also acknowledged that he does have some issues, in terms of his likeability with women.

He acknowledged this point in his Zsa Zsa Gabor quote: "Macho Men Ain't Mucho."

The publication of the Scottish Government's Independence White Paper, contained some fairly extensive and unexpected, childcare proposals.

If these were designed to win over more female voters in Scotland, it would appear, they're not working. The Yes campaign had better keep their fingers crossed that on this issue, unlike so many others, women aren't always right.

A TRULY remarkable decision by Scottish Firefighters took place last week.

The Head of the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) in Scotland, John Duffy, was removed from office, in an election landslide, with some 75% of Scottish Firefighters voting against him.

It is the first time in living memory that a sitting regional secretary has been removed from office anywhere in the UK.

So what is going on and how did these events unfold.

The websites appear full of anger and despair from ordinary firefighters.

Indeed, I have received a number of contacts from firefighters who appear hugely frustrated with the union leadership.

The firefighters accuse John Duffy of pursuing his own agenda.

Last year, Mr Duffy was awarded an OBE. This year, he has been confirmed as an SNP prospective parliamentary candidate for the Scottish Parliament.

It is extremely unusual for firefighters to take decisions such as these. In my opinion, when they do, Government should listen.

FEW of us could fail to have been touched, by the death of Robin Williams.

He was such a stunning talent that reached out into so many people's lives.

From Mork and Mindy to Mrs Doubtfire, his body of work leaves an outstanding legacy for generations to come.

His widow has asked us not to remember him by the manner of his death, but by the laughter and joy that he left behind.

I agree.

Rest in peace Robin.