‘Local Power’ examines the structure of local government in Scotland and its relationship with Holyrood, making recommendations which will bring power closer to the people and in doing so help to deliver better public services in tune with the needs and priorities of local people.
The report recommends a new constitutional relationship between the Scottish Government and local councils set out in legislation, based on:-
- Local authorities being able to take action in the interests of their community unless specifically prohibited from doing so by the Scottish Parliament- the same basis as the relationship between Westminster and the Scottish Parliament;
- Tasks being carried out at the lowest level possible – the principle of subsidiarity;
- Councils providing clear and transparent information on their activities to ensure proper local accountability;
- Greater financial responsibility, with councils over time raising at least half of their own revenue alongside a complete end to central grants being ring-fenced for specific purposes.
Specific policy proposals included in the report include
- devolving business rates to local authorities;
- giving communities the right, where there is demand, to acquire powers over local services such as recreation and primary school education;
- referendums to be held in Scotland’s main cities on the introduction of a directly-elected Provost or Mayor.
Reform Scotland believes the policy recommendations set out in the report form a recipe to deliver the revival of local democracy in Scotland. It is a vision which should enable better public service delivery for local communities, should reduce the huge bureaucracy needed to oversee the current centralised system of public service delivery and should help to restore faith in our political system by bringing government closer to the people.