14 April, 2017 - 00:00

Jon Molyneux

Pollokshields

The Scottish Greens are on course to elect a record number of councillors in Glasgow next month because people know we’ll make a big difference after decades of stagnant, one-party rule.

It’s clear that many people feel disconnected from power and that their voices simply aren’t listened to. That’s why, at the heart of our Glasgow manifesto is a promise to put power directly into the hands of local people, so they have a real say in the decisions that affect their communities.

Localism and subsidiarity – the principle of power being exercised as close as possible to those which it serves – are absolutely fundamental to the values of our party and the Green movement globally. We’re committed to this because we believe – always and without exception – it leads to better decisions being made.

In Pollokshields ward, where I’m running to be the first-ever Green councillor, it’s evident why change is needed.

This is an area with many strong local voices. From the community councils to residents groups, local greenspace projects and community centres there is varied, proactive local engagement and a strong sense of shared priorities for the area. The Make Your Mark initiative run by the Pollokshields Community Council, which created a community-led development plan for the area, is a great example and it should be copied elsewhere.

However, all too often, there are barriers put in the way of local action.   People in the area tell me they've found it infuriatingly hard to get the information they need from council officers operating within labyrinthine structures. The planning system remains fundamentally biased against local people and in favour of developers. And the current administration’s obsession with transferring council assets and services to arms-length bodies has created ambiguity about who’s really responsible for what, which in turn diminishes public accountability and trust.

What’s more, even in an engaged community like Pollokshields, there are some voices which remain unheard. People working long or uncertain hours, with caring responsibilities, or struggling in poverty – those with the greatest need for change – are often the ones most excluded from participating.

Our manifesto for Glasgow commits us to a revitalised local democracy. We want to strengthen the council’s key role in running local services, including how they are funded and how they are held to account. We want to give people far greater opportunities to influence what goes on in their communities, making decisions about local priorities and how money gets spent. And we’ll make sure the council works doubly hard to include those in the most marginalised groups, so we can start to reverse the deep-rooted unfairness that lies at the heart of many of our biggest challenges, whether that’s substandard housing or appalling health inequalities.

If we get local empowerment right, we’ll unlock this city’s true potential. We could have brilliantly designed and run public services; a thriving, locally-driven economy; and healthy, sustainable communities which offer real hope for our young people. At the moment ‘People make Glasgow’ is just a marketing slogan; by voting #1 Green on 4 May you can help make it a statement of fact.

 

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