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We should boost local democracy by empowering our community councils

ON the day that Scotland becomes independent, we will remain as powerless as ever.

We live in a sham democracy, in which putting a cross on a piece of paper every few years is the only way for ordinary Scots to influence public decision-making, either locally or nationally.

The extreme centralisation of power in Scotland has its roots in the abolition of Scottish parish councils in 1930, continuing in 1975 when the number of local authorities was reduced from 430 to 65. This was reduced still further in 1996 with the creation of just 32 single-tier authorities.

The result of this centralisation of power is that our democratic institutions have become too remote for Scots to engage with, either emotionally or practically. Scottish democracy is like a ladder that is missing the bottom rung that reaches down into the grass roots of community life.

The obvious way to empower Scottish communities is via its 1200 community councils. However a recent report by the Scottish Government's Short Life Working Group on the future of community councils suggests that the SNP administration has no intention of giving them any meaningful powers of governance.

When Alex Salmond calls for more powers for Scotland, he means more power for him and his Government colleagues – not more power for ordinary Scots.

Michael Gallagher,

33 Precinct Street, Coupar Angus.

Contextual targeting label: 
Local government

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