Fairer Scotland event for Community Councils: Introduction

The Scottish Government’s ‘Fairer Scotland’ national discussion has been running for a few months now. As the Scottish Community Alliance put it, this is an attempt to crowdsource policy. There’s a series of events around Scotland, at which the Scottish Government ‘wants to work with a broad mix of people across the country to prioritise practical steps that can be taken to create a fairer Scotland’.

But as well as talking directly with people across Scotland, the SG also wants to work with those who (should) most closely represent communities: community councillors. As Marco Biagi (Minister for Local Government and Community Empowerment) put it, key questions are

  • what issues matter most to you as a community councillor?
  • what do you think needs to be done to help community councils create a fairer Scotland?
  • how can your community council play a role in helping to shape Scotland’s future?

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Fairer Scotland event for Community Councils 1: Context – Marco Biagi MSP

Context for the Fairer Scotland Event – Marco Biagi MSP

Mr Biagi said a lot of things I liked to hear. He quoted the calculation from our 2012 report (PDF – see page 5) that arguably only 4% of Scotland’s electorate could vote in recent CC elections – the others were all uncontested due to lack of candidates. He is clearly interested in better mechanisms for local democracy and social justice (a priority for the SG), and looked forward to delegates’  views. He noted that one had come from Oban (100 miles each way) and appreciated that CC members are volunteers who may well have taken the day off work to attend this event.

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Fairer Scotland event for Community Councils 2: Future challenges and opportunities – Mark McAteer

This presentation was given by Mark McAteer, who stood in for Colin Mair, the IS’ chief executive. (Mr Mair was suddenly unable to attend due for personal reasons.) His main themes seemed to be

  • because public-sector cash is going to get tighter, things will change and CCs will be asked to do more. (I’ve already encountered this when an Edinburgh Council staffer asked Leith Central CC what health and social care information it gathers in its community. It doesn’t – firstly no-one asked it to. Secondly, how can 8 people gather accurate information on 20,000 residents?)
  • CCs need to lead, to take opportunities (not wait to be given them), and earn the right to represent.

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Fairer Scotland event for Community Councils 3: which issues matter the most

Workshop 1 – What are the issues that matter most to you as a community councillor?

This was the start of the fun parts for me. My table had delegates from Argyll & Bute, Fife, West Dunbartonshire, Stirling, and Glasgow. (One asked me not to report her CC, so I’ve omitted CC, delegates’ and the facilitator’s names.) Here’s the issues we came up with. Continue reading

Fairer Scotland event for Community Councils 4: QandAs with Marco Biagi and Mark McAteer

Q&A session with Marco Biagi and Mark McAteer

Delegates were asked to pose questions for this session. Continue reading

Fairer Scotland event for Community Councils 5: helping CCs create a fairer Scotland

Workshop 2 – What do you think needs to be done to help community councils create a fairer Scotland?

Here’s my table’s answers: Continue reading

Fairer Scotland event for Community Councils 6: CCs’ roles – John Wilby

A Community Council’s Role in Creating a Fairer Scotland – John Wilby, Community Councillor, Chair of Paisley West & Central Community Council

Mr Wilby spoke about the need for a public service ethos in CCs. He suggested that it’s no surprise that many CC members work for or are retired from public-serving bodies such as the Civil Service, LAs, the NHS and other mergence services. CCs need to get in there and do stuff, if I’ve understood Mr Wilby correctly. Again, this is about earning respect.

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Fairer Scotland event for Community Councils 7: CCs’ roles in Scotland’s future

Workshop 3 – How can your community council play a role in helping to shape Scotland’s future?

Unfortunately didn’t get a photo of our facilitator’s notes. I think most of the ideas we raise are reported in thoughts and encounters 1 and thoughts and encounters 2.

Fairer Scotland event for Community Councils 8: Dotmocracy

Break-out and vote on suggestions: Dotmocracy

Each table’s top idea from each workshop was written out on big sheets. Every delegate could then vote for one or two suggestions from each workshop. For example, if I really liked ‘make CCs more inclusive’ from workshop 1, I could give it two sticky dots (votes). If I liked ‘make CCs more inclusive’ and ‘give CCs power to control dog-fouling’ equally from workshop 1, I could give them each one dot/vote.

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Fairer Scotland event for Community Councils 9: Thoughts and encounters part 1

Thoughts and encounters part 1

I spoke with a few delegates during the day, and some other interesting topics came up in the all-delegate discussions. This and the next post report my reactions to these topics Continue reading