Out of the mouths of babes

Written by Kate Shannon on 9 December 2014

A story which caught my eye recently was that of a 10-year-old girl who has applied for the job as a town council leader in Finland. Primary school student Mili Kasurinen wants to head the council in Kemijarvi, the country’s northernmost town, the Yle news website reports. She’s got some stiff competition for the role (18 adults) but is taking it all very seriously, telling Yle that “this is not some sort of joke to be laughed at”. The youngster has some interesting ideas to boost the town’s finances, including creating an online teaching system to educate children from home, which could be sold to other municipalities. While accepting that she would only be able to work part time, with the rest of her week dedicated to school, she conceded that she’d accept half the salary.

Of course it’s not really feasible for a 10-year-old to become a council leader but this story shouldn’t be dismissed as the attention seeking of a precocious child. Firstly, the fact Mili took the time to put forward an official application for the job is very impressive. What is even more commendable is her smart thinking not only about the town’s education system (and let’s be honest, she has first-hand experience of this) but to then sell the idea to other areas.

After the referendum, politicians and policymakers in Scotland insisted they would do everything in their power to maintain the interest and engagement in politics and current affairs seen during the campaign. Indeed, during the past three years I’ve worked as Local Government Correspondent, I’ve seen a transformation in attitudes to community empowerment. Putting aside the proposed legislation for a moment, it is very positive that those in government are now far more likely to think about people and communities when putting forward changes.

Announcing the findings of his commission on more powers for Scotland, Lord Smith said: “There is a strong desire to see the principle of devolution extended further, with the transfer of powers from Holyrood to local communities. This is an issue that will require significant further thought and discussion and I welcome the enthusiasm of all parties for greater empowerment of our communities. 

“The Scottish Government should work with the Parliament, civic Scotland and local authorities to set out ways in which local areas can benefit from the powers of the Scottish Parliament.”

This is undoubtedly good news for Scotland’s communities – long may it continue

Kate Shannon

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