Wightman: Scotland will never be a normal European country until it addresses the deficit in local democracy

The Scottish Greens’ local government spokesperson will today (11 Oct) tell an audience of council leaders and staff that Scotland will never be a normal European country until it addresses the deficit in local democracy.
Andy Wightman MSP will warn that without renewed local democracy, Scotland will continue to have the most centralised local governance arrangements in Europe as well as among the most limited fiscal autonomy of any European country.
Mr Wightman will highlight his legislative plans to incorporate the European Charter of Local Self-Government into Scots law, a proposal that the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (Cosla) has supported, and will also re-affirm that reform of local government finance remains a pre-condition of any budget negotiations with the minority SNP Government.
Since the SNP lost its majority at Holyrood in 2016, the Scottish Greens have used the opportunity to negotiate changes to the government’s annual spending plans, reversing a total of over £300million of proposed cuts to local councils.
But Green MSPs have warned that failure to make meaningful moves toward a fairer, more locally-controlled system of finance will prevent any discussion about the 2019/20 budget.
Currently, Scottish councils have control over only around 12 per cent of their tax income compared to nearer 50 per cent across most European countries
Ahead of a presentation he will give at the Cosla conference in St Andrew’s today, Scottish Greens local government spokesperson Andy Wightman MSP said:
“Scotland’s democracy is unusually centralised in comparison to other European countries where it is normal for cities and regions to have extensive autonomy and choices over how to use wide fiscal powers. Scotland needs to shift this power balance away from Edinburgh and toward communities to enable the kind of genuine autonomy that is commonplace across Europe.
“SNP Ministers know that Green MSPs cannot enter into talks about the budget in December if they fail to make moves to give Scotland the kind of local democracy enjoyed by our European neighbours.”