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by Jenni Davidson
02 December 2020
Scottish Government to back local democracy bill

Andy Wightman - Image credit: Scottish Parliament YouTube

Scottish Government to back local democracy bill

The Scottish Government has committed to backing a bill that will give the role of local government legal status in Scotland.

The European Charter of Local Self-Government (Incorporation) (Scotland) Bill is a member’s bill proposed by Scottish Greens communities spokesperson Andy Wightman.

It aims to incorporate the European Charter of Local Self-Government into Scots law, setting out certain rights for councils and protecting them from centralisation.

The Scottish Government had not previously indicated whether it would support the bill, but communities secretary Aileen Campbell told Holyrood’s Local Government and Communities Committee today that it would back the bill.

She told MSPs: “My cabinet colleagues and I are satisfied that the government can now express support for this bill.”

Responding to the announcement, Wightman said: “I welcome this change in tone from the Scottish Government.

“Bringing Scotland’s local democracy into line with most normal European nations should have happened long before now, and the evidence given to the committee by experts has been overwhelmingly positive.

“Scotland’s power has been too centralised.

“I look forward to working with all parties as the bill progresses to protect the political, administrative and financial independence of local government to work in the interests of our communities.”

The bill has been strongly supported by local government body COSLA and it also welcomed the Scottish Government announcment.

COSLA president Councillor Alison Evison said:  “This is a good day for democracy in Scotland. It is a good day for our communities. 

“I am absolutely delighted to hear the news that the Scottish Government will support Andy Wightman’s European Charter for Local Self Government Bill.

“The bill is key to building on local and national government’s joint commitment to improve outcomes and renew democratic participation across Scotland, so the support of Scottish Government is great news.

“I would also like to pay tribute to Andy Wightman for his relentless efforts with this. 

“COSLA has been dogged in its support for the principles contained within this bill because they will strengthen the status and standing of local government in Scotland and thereby increase the involvement of local people in shaping the communities in which they live. 

“It will also bring us into line with other European countries – this is a good day for democracy in Scotland, a good day for our communities and a good day for COSLA and Scottish local government.”

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