Choose Local: Scotland Needs Local Solutions

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On May 5, Scotland goes to the polls. Yet it is sometimes easy to forget that real democracy is about more than just 129 MSPs in Holyrood.

With budgets, Europe, and constitutional debates across the headlines, we shouldn’t forget that democratic government in Scotland exists at both national and local levels, and that both must flourish if they are to improve lives across the communities that they serve.

That’s important, because when you speak to people, their story is not about the workings of Holyrood or Westminster. It is about the local services that communities need, and about having a real say about what matters to them. After all, it is at the local level, in the places where people live, that local government services make a difference every day.

It should therefore be no surprise that there is now a powerful new movement taking hold across the country focused on what it would take to put communities in control.

COSLA - the voice of local government in Scotland - has long been a driving force for change. Not long ago we backed the radical vision put forward by the Commission on Strengthening Local Democracy to empower local communities to decide on their priorities, their services, and their spending. We are determined to deliver change, no matter how difficult the financial pressure gets and no matter what obstacles get in the way. We simply cannot afford to do anything else

People have been flocking to the debate, but meaningful reform is yet to happen. A local revolution is within the grasp of the next Scottish Parliament, but simply won’t be possible without commitment from across the political spectrum and across all spheres of government. That’s why it is time to shift the focus from talk to action.

Together, we can unlock the benefits of new forms of democracy, and deliver the opportunities for positive change locally. And we can give local government an unambiguous place in the governance of Scotland.

Most of all, the evidence tells us that the challenges and opportunities that Scotland faces need local solutions. That’s why we are asking any parliamentarian committed to better and more equal outcomes to sign up to our five pledges. Together, we can start to put local democracy on the map in just 100 days.

Strengthening local democracy means strengthening Scotland’s communities, and nothing matters more than that.


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