The former education secretary called for the radical shake-up, stating that local government “in many places has lost contact with those it is meant to serve”.
Mr Russell, who remains an SNP MSP, will make the claim this evening in his inaugural lecture as Professor in Scottish Culture and Governance at the University of Glasgow.
He says: “City regions may be appropriate levels of subsidiarity for some things though a strengthening of community councils in cities would be essential if the current structure was maintained.
“In most of Scotland, however, a new dispensation is required with the division of the existing authorities into much smaller units, devolving down budgetary control to schools, transferring social care to the new integrated services (which need greater local input too, and certainly responsive local management) and focusing on the delivering of the key remaining local services through localised staff.
“Perhaps merging the existing network of largely powerless community councils with these smaller local councils would produce a new dynamism,” he adds.”