Strengthening Local Democracy
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Second phase of Democracy Matters national conversation

People across Scotland are being asked to suggest ways of increasing local control over decision-making.

The second phase of the Democracy Matters national conversation will give people the opportunity to come together in their communities to imagine how new and inclusive democratic processes can best help their town, village or neighbourhood.

Community groups can guide local discussions by using the consultation document which covers a variety of themes including powers, representation, accountability and participation. People previously said it was crucial to get these things right. Funding is available to help with the costs of hosting events.

To mark the start of the second phase, Community Wealth Minister Tom Arthur and Local Government Empowerment Minister Joe FitzPatrick visited the Linlithgow Community Development Trust.

Mr Arthur said:

“The Scottish Government is encouraging people across the country to come together and talk about local involvement in our democratic processes. We believe more decisions should be taken locally to better reflect the aspirations of our diverse communities.

“More than 4,000 people took part in the first phase of Democracy Matters. By providing financial support, we hope to make local conversations during the second phase as welcoming as possible. We want to hear even more voices as we work together to improve the way democracy works for our local communities.”

COSLA President Shona Morrison said:

“COSLA welcomes the launch of the second phase of Democracy Matters; it marks a renewed resolve to put local people and communities at the centre of local decision-making. By drawing on the experiences gained by local communities during and since the Covid-19 pandemic we hope to secure a clear, updated understanding of how new models of local democracy can transform the lives of people in communities across Scotland.

“I would encourage everyone to contribute to the conversations which will be taking place across Scotland during the next few months as we ask what models of democratic framework would work best for them.”

Electoral Reform Society Scotland Director Willie Sullivan said:

“Communities are made and good places to live are created when people work with each other to run their city, island, town or village. Scotland is the sum of these places, and our democracy depends on how well we run them together.

“In that light, it’s very important to restart Democracy Matters to ask local communities what sort of local democratic framework might make this possible.”


Democracy Matters. The closing date for responses is Wednesday 28 February 2024.

Information about how to apply for grants to help cover the costs of hosting events is available online.

Democracy Matters is part of the wider Local Governance Review, led jointly with COSLA, which is considering how powers and resources should be shared between national and local government and with communities. It will inform future legislation on local governance.

The Verity House Agreement, signed earlier in the summer, aims to create a strong partnership between national and local government. The Democracy Matters process reflects the importance of communities being part of a partnership approach to delivering better outcomes for people.