Tuesday, March 18, 2014

More democracy here please?

I posted a relatively generic piece about the need (as far as I'm concerned, anyhow) for more deliberative democracy across the UK a few months ago ... you can access it here, if interested?

And despite the focus in that article on macro-level political issues, as all my close colleagues, family and friends know - I've no personal interest whatsoever in moving from the local-level which I've been lucky enough to serve within for four terms now.

So - with all my political bias openly admitted - I was genuinely delighted to see the Local Government section of Scottish Labour's Devolution Commission proposals earlier today (see pages 8-11) ... frankly, what a breath of fresh air.

I've been a local Councillor since 1999, and don't recall any previous "Scottish Executive or Government" offering up such devolution of powers from the Scottish Parliament to Local Government ... indeed, some powers are being offered up to be devolved straight from Westminster to Scottish Local Government!

Yes, of course the proposals have their weaknesses --- as political opponents have been only too keen to point out over the last 48-hours; but all the Parties' proposals have weaknesses, and they all know it.

There's a good ESRC-blog now up about some of the detail here ... I completely agree with this section on Local Government:

"The Labour Devolution Commission’s proposals share much common ground with the other pro-union groups, but there are also significant nuances and differences. Eye-catchingly different and rather more extensive than the others are the proposals on strengthening local government in Scotland, including ‘level-hopping’ devolution of some powers direct from Westminster to local authorities, bypassing the Scottish Parliament. There is some political point-scoring here about the perceived centralist approach of the SNP Government, but this does look like a quite radical decentralising agenda."

For me, as a Local Councillor --- and I'd hope for Local Councillors of all political persuasions --- there's a good deal to welcome in yesterday's document.

Of course I know that delivery will be key ... I'll most certainly be keeping a keen interest around the potential for implementation of these welcome proposals.

UPDATE: the full Commission Report is now available on-line here - section 7 refers to Local Government powers.

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