Local Government Minister Derek Mackay has expressed “concern” following reports that some councils in Scotland are failing to appoint a fair mix of Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA) delegates.
Speaking to Holyrood, Mackay said that according to COSLA guidelines, delegates should represent the whole council and all administrations should take that on board when putting forward delegates.
He said: “I have to express some concern at early indications that some local authorities are appointing delegate entitlement entirely for the administration.
That doesn’t seem to respect the COSLA guidance on proportionality and fairness in representing the political composition of the local authority.
“For local government’s credibility and for COSLA’s credibility, and the president they elect and the spokespeople they choose, to have the credibility in a new term, it has to be elected in an open, fair and transparent way and that should abide by the very guidance the COSLA produces that any reasonable person would expect a council to follow.” Mackay had previously told topranking civil servants at the recent Society of Local Authority Chief Executives Scotland conference that the composition of COSLA should be “truly reflective” of the composition of each council.
He added: “Councils should simply follow the advice they have agreed through COSLA which is that each composition should be proportionate to the political composition of that council. If that is done, as it was done last time, then there will be a great deal of confidence in COSLA.
“If it is not carried out that way…
then it will raise question marks over the legitimacy of anyone who is appointed without following the principles accepted across the parties by COSLA.” The SNP has already criticised some councils for failing to appoint nationalist delegates.
In North Lanarkshire, the Labour group will make up all six of its delegates, while in Falkirk, the Labour/Tory administration will take three of the four positions.
North Lanarkshire Council leader Jim McCabe told the Wishaw Press: “The job we have here is to make sure the council is best represented on any forum.
“We’re sending four experienced and two relatively new councillors, and it’s an opportunity to educate them in another aspect of local government.
“It’s incumbent on me to maximise opportunities for our voice to be heard, and I’m not the first to have done this – had the positions been reversed, the opposition would have done the very same thing.” According to COSLA, delegates should be appointed as far as practicable, on a basis which reflects the balance of party political strength within each member council.