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Douglas Ross to set out manifesto pledges for communities

Stuart Halliday/CC BY 3.0

Douglas Ross to set out manifesto pledges for communities

The Scottish Government should hand more powers to communities on issues like planning and business rates, Scottish Tory leader Dougal Ross will tell his party conference.

He will also put forward proposals for a programme of ‘community investment deals’ made up of both UK and Scottish Government funding.

In his speech to the Scottish Conservative party conference he will say: “We believe that everyone should have the same opportunities regardless of where they live.”

Ross will announce manifesto commitments including giving communities a veto on developments to make it harder for Scottish Ministers to overrule local planning decisions.

He will also suggest that councils should be able to exempt business premises in town centres from paying rates, creating rates-free zones to help regenerate high streets.

Ross said: “The SNP’s focus on centralisation has undermined local decision-making across Scotland.

“While they constantly complain to the UK about powers and cash, they have shamelessly grabbed both from local areas for 13 years.

“We in the Scottish Conservatives will stand up for all the communities, villages and towns that have been left behind.

“We believe that everyone should have the same opportunities regardless of where they live.

“We need to target our investment towards creating good jobs in every part of our country. Economic growth is not an end in itself, if it leaves communities behind and entrenches inequality of place.

“Which is why we would deliver a programme of Community Investment Deals to build new partnerships between communities and the UK and Scottish governments, partnerships where local people call more of the shots.

“We would also give communities the power to prevent Scottish Ministers forcing a development on them that they don’t want. At the moment, there are too many examples where hundreds of local objections are dismissed.

“This is not about preventing development, it is about promoting development that benefits local areas. To rebuild our communities, we must ensure that new developments are improving, not damaging them.”

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