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June 4, 2008

Lochhead champions community empowerment

Of all Scottish Government Ministers, Richard Lochhead (Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and the Environment) seems the most supportive of community empowerment. Speaking at a conference in Findhorn he said "To support community empowerment, the Scottish Government must play a strategic role. Working closely with COSLA, we must provide national leadership"

Speech to Findhorn community

Scottish Government approach to Community Empowerment

As a Government we believe that too much power in Scotland has been drawn up to the national level over the last few years. We are determined to change that and to put power back where it belongs – nearer to the Scottish people.

This starts with making sure that Local Councils are given their right and proper place. They are democratically accountable. They are the tier of Government closest to communities on a day to day basis. And we are in the process of developing a new and more mature relationship with Local Government based on trust and mutual respect.

But community empowerment is also key for this Government. Its not jargon for us – it’s a real thing. We believe in the benefits of local communities having more direct control and influence over the things that affect them. You know that there is a long and proud tradition in rural areas of communities getting on and doing things for themselves.

To support community empowerment the Scottish Government must play a strategic role. Working closely with COSLA, we must provide National leadership.

In this context, I am personally determined that we make it easier than it has ever been before for communities to understand and get hold of the various Scottish Government resources that support community empowerment.

I and my colleague Stewart Maxwell have asked officials from across Government to put themselves in your shoes. We have asked them report to us on how we can simplify things to help you.