COSLA vows to increase diversity and improve participation

Written by Kate Shannon on 16 April 2018 in News

The council umbrella body has published its priorities for the future

Alison Evison: Picture credit - David Anderson

Scotland’s council umbrella body has set out its priorities for the future, including improving diversity in local government, increasing participation and dealing with Brexit.

The Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA) published its first annual progress update, part of “significant activity” across the organisation to modernise and improve.

President Alison Evison said: “As we look to the future, there are big challenges ahead, but real opportunities too.

“That’s why I’ve made it a priority to go out and meet councillors from across the country and listen to what they need from their national organisation.

“From North Ayrshire to Shetland, and Moray to the Scottish Borders, I’ve been hugely impressed by the passion and innovation that I have witnessed.

“Some major tasks lie ahead - fair funding, improving participation, building inclusive economies, and ensuring that education reforms work in the best interests of our communities, to name but a few.”

She also said progress is needed to improve diversity in local government.

“Despite some improvement, only 29 per cent of Scotland’s 1,227 councillors are women”,”

“Other key parts of our communities are also under-represented.

“That’s why this report sets out a new ‘Equality, Representation, and Diversity’ priority to take forward the work that is required.”

One of COSLA’s first actions after the 2017 elections was to agree overall priorities and principles and this update highlights the progress so far.

Evison said Brexit is also a “massive issue”, and COSLA has met with Michel Barnier, worked with Scottish and UK ministers and other local government organisations across the UK to press for a new constitutional settlement that empowers councils to deliver the outcomes communities need.

She added: “Like local elected members across the country, I know there are also huge opportunities to improve lives by strengthening local democracy.

“COSLA has long championed change, and we are beginning to see that work bear fruit.

“I welcome the growing appetite for reform, but it’s more important than ever to shape this so that it strengthens democratic accountability and delivers the real-life benefits for communities that we know are possible.”

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