INVERCLYDE Council is to decide on supporting a move to drastically embolden the legal powers of councils.

Legislation proposed by Andy Wightman MSP would see the European Charter of Self-Government enshrined in Scots Law.

Thus, if government breeched any of the 18 articles protecting the independence of councils, it could be taken to court.

The Charter is ratified in Scotland but there is no mechanism to hold executive power to account of the articles are breeched.

Inverclyde Council Leader, Councillor Stephen McCabe, said: “While much of the public sector in Scotland is controlled centrally, local government is the only part directly controlled by locally elected councillors.

“This unique position in Scottish public life gives our residents a direct link to the services delivered in their communities.

“The European charter for self-government opens up opportunities to strengthen and support the position of local government.”

The Charter was created by the Council of Europe, which seeks to uphold human rights, democracy and the rule of law in Europe.

It has 18 articles protecting the political, administrative and financial independence of local authorities.

While there is recourse to uphold complaints about EU law and the European Court of Human Rights, no such body exists for most other international obligations like the Charter.

The Council Tax freeze is an example where the Scottish Government could have been taken to court.

Mr Wightman says it may have breached Article Five that says local government should have control of its own taxation.

While it remains to be determined, the courts’ punishments could range from a harshly worded letter to “striking down” a faulty bill or executive instruction.

Mr McCabe added: “Councillors at our policy and resources committee will have a chance to review the proposed bill.

“This is a chance to raise awareness of the important issues behind it about local democracy among our communities to encourage more people to have their say about this.

“If agreed at the committee, the council would then prepare a draft response for submission as part of the consultation.”

Mr Wightman hopes to present a bill to the Scottish Parliament next spring.

The Scottish Greens MSP said: “I am very pleased, obviously, if Inverclyde councillors want to support the proposed legislation.

“And if individual councils are willing to respond with their thoughts, that is extremely welcome.

“There is a huge problem with local democracy in Scotland – we are one of the least democratic countries in Europe.

“Most countries the typical size of Scotland, their smallest tier of council, and I mean real council, is 6,000 to 10,000 people.”