Local Government Explained

'Scotland’s councils are operating in an increasingly demanding environment. New and returning councillors face major challenges...it is more important than ever that councillors provide effective leadership in setting a clear strategy and make the difficult decisions that will be needed.'  

                  Douglas Sinclair, Former Chair, Accounts Commission, March 2017

Local government in Scotland has become much more complex and fragmented. Additional complexity means that all councillors need a broader set of skills including the necessary training and tools to do an increasingly complex job.

It also means organisations regulated by and providing services for local government will need more knowledge to understand how their relationship with local government might be changing and how to prepare to engage with, influence and work in partnership with councils across Scotland. 

The event

Join us on the 5 December 2017 for Holyrood's training event Local Government Explained. We provide attendees with a comprehensive understanding of the structures, duties and powers of local government, the role of councils as regulators and service providers and explain the big issues facing local government in Scotland. 

Training in association with the Queen Margaret University Master of Public Administration 

The Master of Public Administration (MPA) is an internationally recognised professional postgraduate degree, which is a public/third sector equivalent to the Master of Business Administration (MBA). The course is targeted primarily at public service and third sector professionals. Queen Margaret University have a niche specialism in public administration and have supported leadership development for a wide range of employers including City of Edinburgh Council, Dundee City Council, PIRC and the Welsh Government.

Your trainers

Dr Ian Elliott 

Dr Ian Elliott is a senior lecturer in business and public services and co-director of the MPA programme at Queen Margaret University. Dr Elliott has extensive experience in supporting the development of leadership skills within local authorities including City of Edinburgh Council, Dundee City Council and Orkney Islands Council. He has conducted significant research on the leadership of change in public services and the nature of leadership within the Scottish approach to policy-making. As Chair of the UK academic society for Public Administration (JUC Public Administration Committee) Dr Elliott also has an advocacy role in championing the work of UK universities in the areas of public policy, public administration and public management.


Carol George

Carol George is a lecturer in business and public services at Queen Margaret University. She enjoyed a lengthy career in local government, both in front-line services and in corporate policy, working closely with senior officers, elected members and partner organisations. More recently she has extensive experience in delivering public management education at undergraduate and postgraduate levels. She has undertaken several commissioned research projects focussed on leadership in social services. Carol has supported a range of public and third sector organisations through her business activities, offering training, research and consultancy aimed at service improvement. She is an Associate of Quality Scotland and an Associate of the Dementia Services Development Centre.


09:15   Registration and refreshments

09:45  Session 1: Local Government: Structures, duties and powers 

Introduction to Local Government in Scotland

  • The role of a council in Scotland
  • Powers & duties councils are statutorily required to perform
  • Variation in services provided by councils across Scotland
  • Limits to their powers
  • How they are funded

The Councillor/Officer Divide

  • Duties of an elected member
  • Different types of member: the administration and the rest
  • The role of council officers

Decision Making: Where Does Power Lie?

  • The role of the elected leadership/administration
  • The role of committees: regulatory functions & holding the leadership to account
  • Decisions made by officers vs ones made by members
  • Where does power really lie?

11:10   Coffee Break

11:30   Session 2: Councils: Regulation and services

Councils as a Service Provider: Who delivers what?

  • Services usually provided directly by council employees
  • Services usually delivered by ALEOs/volunteers/others
  • Services councils usually contract out

Councils as a Regulator: What powers do they have?

  • Councils' regulatory powers & how they use them

Councils Working With Others

  • How councils interact with the Scottish Government
  • How councils work with other public bodies (police, fire, health services, Jobcentres, etc.)
  • How councils work with the private sector
  • How councils work with other councils and benchmarking

12:45   Networking Lunch 

Session 3: The Big Issues Facing Local Government 

13:30  Facilitated discussion: the future of local government in Scotland

  • The constitutional relationship between the Scottish Government and local authorities: how might this look in the future?
  • Financial challenges and the argument for the devolution of taxation 
  • Digital transformation and public services 

15:00   Close of Training

*agenda subject to change 


Holyrood Communications Ltd, Panmure Court, 32 Calton Road, Edinburgh EH8 8DP | MAP


Delegate rates (excluding VAT)

  • Discounted rate: £245 (Voluntary / charitable organisations with an annual income of less than £1m)
  • Reduced rate: £345 for 1 place | £295 per place if 2 or more are booked (Central government departments and agencies, local authorities, universities, colleges, NHS, police, professional associations and voluntary / charitable organisations with an annual income over £1m)
  • Full rate: £395 (Commercial organisations e.g. plc, Ltd, LLP)

For more information please email enquiries@holyrood.com or phone 0131 285 1635

5 December 2017



Share this page