Alex Salmond has announced he will take his cabinet to Bathgate for the first in a series of special meetings where people can question SNP ministers on their independence plans.

The First Minister and his team will meet in the West Lothian town on January 28.

Mr Salmond said the referendum was the "chance of a lifetime" and that he wanted as many Scots as possible to get the chance to have their questions answered.

He said the meeting would be the start of "an exciting series of Scotland-wide events" in the run-up to the vote, which will be held on September 18 this year.

The cabinet has already been questioned on the plans set out in Scotland's Future, the white paper on independence, by more than 300 representatives from civic Scotland. But ministers say they are also keen to hear from the public and will announce more public meetings in the future.

The First Minister said: "This visit marks the Cabinet's first meeting outside of Edinburgh in 2014 and kicks off an exciting series of Scotland-wide events to engage with the public this year.

"Taking the referendum conversation out to communities in all corners of the country provides an opportunity for us to meet people from a wide range of backgrounds and hear their views on independence as well as listening to their local questions."

He added: "Over the next nine months the people of Scotland will be able to debate and decide on its future through a civic and democratic process.

"We want to give as many people as possible the opportunity to ask questions and air their views.

"We've already put forward our proposals for Scotland's future and demonstrated how the powers of independence can be used to build a wealthier and fairer Scotland, but it's crucial everyone who lives and works in Scotland considers and discusses the sort of country they want Scotland to be in the future."