COSLA once again a “unified” voice after a turbulent few years

Written by Kate Shannon on 4 October 2017 in News

President Alison Evison said a united voice for local government is “increasingly” important to Scotland’s communities

Alison Evison: Picture credit - David Anderson

Scotland’s council umbrella body is once again a “unified” voice after a turbulent few years, according to the organisation’s new president.

Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA) president Alison Evison stressed the importance of all 32 councils once again being part of the group.


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Speaking exclusively to Holyrood, she said: “It is so important we have a strong local government voice, so we are really pleased to welcome back everyone and we are now united across Scotland once again.

“That voice for local government is increasingly important to our communities and what that means for local democracy and accountability.”

In 2015, four Labour councils, including Glasgow and Aberdeen City, decided to leave the organisation and go it alone, citing financial reasons.

The four formed their own group and COSLA was forced to endure speculation about its future.

However, following the local government elections in May and within a month of Evison’s appointment in June, COSLA welcomed all 32 councils back.

She believes partnership working is key.

First elected to Aberdeenshire Council in 2012 as the local authority's first Labour councillor, she served for a time as co-leader with the SNP’s Richard Thomson.

“The years I had working in co-leadership were so important,” she said.

“Co-leadership is getting quite common now but we were the first and we developed that model, it’s something Aberdeenshire has exported to the rest of Scotland.

“Having that ability to work in partnership is important in regards to other councillors in other groups, but it is also important across the public sector in Scotland as well. Being able to work together with different public-sector bodies for the good of our communities is so important.

“That wider partnership, within COSLA but also across the public sector and other local government organisations in the rest of the UK and in Europe, I believe this is vital.”

Evison kicks off the joint COSLA and the Improvement Service conference in Crieff on Thursday.

Entitled Tomorrow’s World, organisers hope the event will encapsulate the opportunities and challenges Scottish local government will face over the next five years.

Other speakers include Deputy First Minister John Swinney, the Rt Hon Kenneth Clarke and John Curtice, Professor of Politics at the University of Strathclyde. 

The last session on Friday 6 October sees a panel session featuring interim Scottish Labour Party leader Alex Rowley, Scottish Green co-convener Patrick Harvie, Scottish Lib Dem leader Willie Rennie, Scottish Conservative MSP Donald Cameron and Local Government and Housing Minister Kevin Stewart.

The annual COSLA Excellence Awards Ceremony will take place on Thursday.

Read Holyrood's full interview with Alison Evison online on 5 October.

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