Nicola Sturgeon has said independence is the only option which will allow the role and status of local government to be enshrined in a written constitution.

She was speaking at a conference of more than 200 leading council figures, as the role of local government took centre stage in the independence debate.

The Deputy First Minister said: "As well as the other measures which we have advocated, such as free health care, education and a ban on nuclear weapons, the SNP will also propose that Scotland's Constitution should guarantee the status and rights of local government.

"The role of Scottish local authorities should be entrenched in a written constitution, a democratic settlement that only independence offers."

But MP Alistair Darling, who leads the pro-UK Better Together campaign, said any constitution would be "hot air" without the funds to back it up.

Their calls come 48 hours after Cosla president David O'Neill called for a decentralisation of power.

In a veiled attack on the SNP Government, which has been accused of dictating policies to Scotland's 32 councils, he said centralisation was "the enemy of everything we stand for in local government".

Meanwhile, the document which formed the basis of Mr O'Neill's speech warns the debate about decentralising power from Holyrood and Westminster is "unlikely to be rational", with claims criticisms of the call for wider council control are "wilfull misunderstanding".