Wed 2 Dec, 2020

Bringing Scotland’s local democracy into line with most normal European nations should have happened long before now Andy Wightman

Local democracy in Scotland is set to be strengthened after the Scottish Government indicated it would back a Scottish Greens bid to give local councils European-style protections from centralisation.

At the Scottish Parliament’s Local Government committee, Communities Secretary Aileen Campbell signalled support for Andy Wightman’s European Charter of Local Self-Government (Incorporation) (Scotland) Bill, which would give councils democratic guarantees that are normal across Europe.

The Bill brings into domestic law an important Council of Europe Treaty that provides basic freedoms for local government.

The Scottish Government initially appeared sceptical, but the bill has already had the support of councils’ umbrella body COSLA and others.

Ms Campbell told MSPs: “My cabinet colleagues and I are satisfied that the government can now express support for this bill.”

Responding, Scottish Greens communities spokesperson Andy Wightman said: “I welcome this change in tone from the Scottish Government. Bringing Scotland’s local democracy into line with most normal European nations should have happened long before now, and the evidence given to the committee by experts has been overwhelmingly positive.

“Scotland’s power has been too centralised. I look forward to working with all parties as the bill progresses to protect the political, administrative and financial independence of local government to work in the interests of our communities.”

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