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November 20, 2013

Democracy in poor health

The recent pilot by two of Scotland’s Health Boards to hold direct elections was a flawed but no doubt genuine attempt to widen the democratic accountability of the NHS. The predictably low turnout has called a halt to the experiment. Lesley Riddoch sets out, not for the first time, why it is no surprise that only 10% bothered to vote in her home patch of Fife. COSLA’s recent investigation into the future of local democracy has just extended its deadline for submissions. Ideas on a postcard by 20th Dec.


Scottish local government has adopted a vision that focuses on improving local democracy as the route to better outcomes, and is putting this at the heart of all of its work.  The COSLA Convention has agreed to establish Scotland’s first Commission on Strengthening Local Democracy to pursue that vision.  It will bring people together with a common resolve to consider how local democracy and accountability in Scotland might be improved and empowered, and provide advice on what is needed for that to happen.

The overall purpose of the Commission is to:

“Identify a route map to deliver the full benefits of a shift in power towards local democracy for people in Scotland”

It will work to address three objectives:

1)     Investigate a local approach to services and accountability that will improve outcomes in Scotland’s communities

2)     Consider the current landscape of democracy in Scotland and how this could be strengthened and enriched to benefit local people most

3)     Make recommendations that set a course for putting stronger local democracy at the heart of Scotland’s constitutional future

Help us understand what strong local democracy means to you. NEW DEADLINE 20 DECEMBER 2013

As a Commission, our starting point is that we believe that local services and local accountability matter.  That is why we want to start our work by asking for your views and evidence about what happens now, and what the future might be. 

We will use your views to develop our work and explore ideas, so what you tell us now is really important.  


The information that you give us now will help start the debate, but we want this to be an ongoing conversation.  Over the next few months we will be setting up different ways to meet you and discuss your ideas.  So if you want to tell us more, or would prefer to share your thinking in a different way, we will be ensuring that there are ways of doing so.   One of our questions is about how we should do this.

How to share your views and evidence with us

We want to hear what you have to say.  The best way to do this is to download the information below and email your response back to us at