November 17, 2020
As the Local Governance Review (known to many as Democracy Matters) begins to get back on course after the hiatus of lockdown, it’s inevitable that there will be a period of adjustment as all parties reflect on how best they can respond to the challenges presented by the pandemic. COSLA recently published what they call a Blueprint for Local Government which spells out their vision for strengthening local democracy and supporting communities. Disappointingly, there’s no mention of their willingness to explore new forms of local governance. Strengthening local government is only one part of the solution.
COSLA has today launched a new Blueprint for Scottish Local Government.
The Blueprint will allow Local Government to build around an ambitious vision for Scotland’s future – one based on the empowerment of people and communities.
The document (which can be viewed here) has been framed around 6 themes,
- Strengthening Local Democracy
- Funding Services and Communities
- Wellbeing – including Health and Social Care
- Education and Children and Young People
- Economy and the Environment
- Supporting Vulnerable Communities
Speaking as he launched the Blueprint, Councillor Graham Houston COSLA’s Vice-President said: “The Blueprint we are launching today provides a narrative around the kind of country we want, and about the changes that could make a real difference to communities across the country.
“Covid-19 has changed the way we live. But pre-Covid, through Covid and after Covid Local Government is the anchor for communities in need. For children, young people and families; for local businesses; and for services that benefit our physical and emotional well-being and the environment. We work with communities and local organisations every day to bring about change and to make the voices of people heard and matter.”
Councillor Houston continued: “The value of Local Government can be seen in our response to Covid-19, where Councils have taken decisive action to support communities, people, and businesses.
“Whether delivering food or medicine, providing shelter for the homeless, supporting volunteers or keeping many essential services running, Local Government has been the face of the response for many.
“The Local Government workforce, which is the largest in Scotland, has fundamentally changed the way it works to reduce the disruption caused to everyday life.
“Scottish Local Government must be further empowered to bring about the change we now need.
“The financial impacts of Covid-19 have been severe and have placed extreme pressure on already strained Council budgets and on our workforce. Without proper resourcing we will see reductions in spending and inevitable cuts to services, furthering the inequalities highlighted by the pandemic and putting at risk the very recovery we seek.”
Councillor Houston concluded: “Local Government, and the communities we serve, have shown the innovation and creative thinking needed to respond to this unprecedented pandemic and to adapt to a new way of life.
“We have proved our worth, we will continue to deliver and our Blueprint is the menu for change that Local Government now requires.”