On June 28 next year it will be ten years since the Report on the Future Delivery of Public Services from the Commission chaired by my later brother, the former STUC general secretary Dr Campbell Christie, was published.

Ten whole years: if a week is a long time in politics what does that make ten years?

The Four main themes of the Christie Commission were

• Reforms must aim to empower individuals and communities receiving public services by involving them in the design and delivery of the services they use.

• Public service providers must be required to work much more closely in partnership, to integrate service provision and thus improve the outcomes they achieve.

• We must prioritise expenditure on public services which prevent negative outcomes from arising.

• And our whole system of public services - public, third and private sectors - must become more efficient by reducing duplication and sharing services wherever possible.

In terms of implementation of the recommendations from Campbell’s report, if I were writing it up as a school report card it would undoubtedly be a fair start, must try harder, definite room for improvement.

So why have the Recommendations from Campbell’s Report not been implemented in the way he had hoped for – why has the vision he had for public service delivery in Scotland, to make it a better place for its citizens, not yet come to fruition in the way he envisaged?

Some might say it is the cost and that may be an issue, but in truth I feel it is that central governments in general do not readily relinquish control. Their rhetoric on empowering the local does not match the reality.

Apart from individuals and communities, the main player in Campbell’s vision would be democratically elected and representative local government which the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities [Cosla] President describes as the sphere of Government closest to the people.

Therefore, it is no great coincidence that some of the recent work of Cosla on behalf of Scottish Local Government chimes very closely with the Commission recommendations and indeed could restart the journey to their fulfilment.

Two things in particular that I have been aware of Cosla doing spring to mind.

Firstly, their recently launched Cosla Blueprint – which they describe as ‘a menu for change’ that they hope to see.

Even if it is a decade on from the final report of the Christie Commission, the Cosla Blueprint is a good addition to the whole public service reform debate – but just like Campbell’s report – it is more about the actions that come from the document rather than the document itself. Words in documents cannot deliver the change, only actions from them can.

Within the COSLA Blueprint, the section on Strengthening Local Democracy really chimes with much of Campbell’s thinking.

It states: “Decisions about our future should be made by the people most affected by them. Scotland is a diverse country: what works in our cities may not suit remote rural communities, just as the priorities in our towns may not be the same as those on our islands. Countries with truly empowered councils and communities have been shown to produce better outcomes and to be more effective at protecting and improving wellbeing.

“We want a vibrant, equal democracy where people can embrace their rights, and actively participate in civic society. Working together we can create a society where everyone is valued, treated with dignity and respect, with equitable access to opportunities and a sustainable quality of life. This can only be achieved by listening to and involving people and communities. Local Government fully understands the importance of working side by side with communities and the challenges to be faced to ensure equity of involvement.

“That is why we are clear that recovery should empower individuals and communities through the strengthening of local democratic decision making.

“To put it simply – decisions should be made from the community up, not from the top down. In making the voice of local people heard and acted upon across all public services, we can address the huge health, social and financial costs of persistent inequality in this country. We also recognise that engaging a representative group from across our communities can be difficult and that we need to be realistic about the work and time involved in ensuring that the voice of people heard is reflective of the wider community.

“We have seen throughout the pandemic what can be achieved when Local Government and communities come together – now is the time to maintain and build on this. Communities hold the answers to the issues they face, and Local Government stands as the enabling force empowering communities to drive forward a transformative collaborative programme of social, economic and environmental renewal.”

In addition to their Blueprint the second area where Cosla have been dogged and determined in their aspiration to deliver better outcomes for Communities is in relation to Green MSP Andy Wightman’s European Charter for Local Self Government Bill.

The aim of the Bill is to strengthen the status and standing of Local Government in Scotland and thereby increase the involvement of local people in shaping the communities in which they live.

The Bill is key to building on local and national government’s joint commitment to improve outcomes and renew democratic participation across Scotland.

Both these things, the Blueprint and the Bill provide the opportunity to transform outcomes and empower citizens in all our local communities is one that should be seized with both hands – it is what Campbell would have wanted and it is what Scotland’s communities deserve. Maybe a decade on there does remain some hope for his vision, which was ahead of its time, coming to life.

Leslie Christie is Retired Kent County Councillor (served for 20 years)

Former General Secretary of the National Union of Civil and Public Servants

Former member of General Council of TUC