4. Additional comments and suggestions
Other interesting or important comments, suggestions and concerns expressed in consultation responses included:
- Leadership Capacity - Leadership capacity in Local Government is very important, at both elected member and officer level. Large, complex, strategic services both demand and need the best leadership available. The crucial importance of leadership capacity at both councillor and officer level has become even more pressing given the increasing complexity of the work of a council. The role of councillors is changing from one where the council is the dominant service provider, to one where the council is a commissioner of services as well as a provider.
- Representation - At present the make-up of councils is not fully representative of the communities they serve.
- National work delivered locally – Greater recognition is required by national organisations about the implications for local delivery of national strategy commitments; and that community empowerment means that delivery can be by both public services and local communities/ communities of interest. There are opportunities for national public bodies to relocate jobs to help stimulate economic growth in different parts of the country.
- Christie Commission - The principles of the Christie Commission and the Commission on Strengthening Local Democracy should be central to any changes made to public bodies and specifically Local Government. It is suggested that the Christie Commission's principles for public service reform be followed in the design of any future arrangements for local governance.
- Internal systems - internal systems and processes within partners can often limit the ability to respond to local priorities. These can include rules around capital expenditures and receipts, recruitment and secondment, and opaque decision-making structures. A review of these internal bureaucratic barriers should be undertaken to ensure that public service community planning partners are working to deliver best value outcomes for communities.
- Community Wealth building - it is essential that, as part of a duty to promote inclusive growth, all public bodies engaged in procurement or local investment are supported to take community wealth factors into consideration when investing or procuring
- Technology and engagement - Increased opportunities to use technology and engagement tools to improve equality of opportunity in influencing decision making are needed. A commitment should be made to make the best use of our people, their skills and current and developing technological resources to improve engagement with local communities/communities of interest.
- Cities – the cities ask for a greater role in policy development at a national level. Just as island and rural communities are recognised in funding and investment decisions for the special role they provide and additional pressures they face, it is the view of the cities that similar recognition should be given to Scotland's cities.
- Inclusive growth - Proposals under the Review must be consistent with National Performance Framework ambition for inclusive growth and the Community Empowerment Act.
- Economic Policy – There is a call for greater autonomy in local economic policy, with the potential for local development and skills being devolved to a local level. There is a need for local levers to drive local economic growth via devolution of legislative powers. Current delivery vehicles and national structures are complex and overly bureaucratic and there is a need to review these to streamline them and ensure transparency.
- Inputs versus Outcomes - There should be a presumption against national input targets for any body delivering local services. These run contrary to the Christie principle of focussing on outcomes not inputs
- Democratic Accountability- Consideration needs to be given of the link between local authority councillors and their communities. Currently Scotland has the fewest locally elected representatives per head of population anywhere in Europe. If we are serious about having empowered communities, do we need more councillors? The current basic salaries for councillors are not good and tend to result in a high proportion of retired councillors or councillors who are juggling their duties with another job. How well is the multi-member ward system understood or is another proportional representational system worth looking at?
- Participative democracy versus representative democracy - participative democracy should not erode the ability of a council to make strategic decisions. The correct balance has to be found between the two.
- Future Proofing - the review of local governance provides an opportunity to look forward and future proof the current aims and objectives. Communities are currently changing and to support and enable them to more forward, there must be recognition of the different supports that will be required in the future, with an anticipation of the resources required.
Across the responses, there are issues for particular sectors e.g. transport, health, the cities, community justice, but the detail of these have not been captured in this report, which seeks to focus on the key themes arising across the submissions.
This report has sought to summarise the main themes emerging from analysis of the 44 submissions made to the Strand 2 consultation within the Local Governance Review.
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