I’m often engaged by articles on the Scottish Community Alliance fortnightly ‘briefings’. It’s easy to link to individual articles. However, I’ve not found a way to link to the introductions. So I shamelessly reproduce the introduction to the most recent briefing: it ticks all the boxes on my pro-hyperlocal democracy bias. While some community councils may not be ready to play fuller roles just now, that is no reason to not aspire to do more. As Angus Hardie puts it…
With apologies to any town planners reading this, but there’s something about planning that just fails to set the pulse racing. Which is ironic when you consider its critical role in shaping communities, not to mention how locally divisive some planning decisions can be. And here’s the rub. Planning is seen as something that is ‘done to’ a community – disconnected from the issues that local people see as being important. As things stand, communities only react (sometimes with great hostility) to planning. They don’t doplanning. But here’s a thought – maybe they should. Scottish Government clearly recognises that something is seriously awry with the system and hopes that its current ‘game changing’ Planning Review will produce some ‘game changing’ answers. Well, here’s a starter for ten. Resuscitate our much maligned and under-resourced community councils with new statutory powers over local development plans – no longer just statutory consultees but playing a key role in a refreshed, community-led planning system. And if community councils don’t feel up to the job, plenty of other community bodies (as per Community Empowerment Act) could step up. And who knows, a system of community led planning might even kick start a system of genuine local democracy.
Angus Hardie, Director