Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Rebuilding local democracy in Scotland - a tough job against institutionalised thinking?

Here in Nairn so much of civic life revoles around ensuring Nairn has its fair shout in the world - a difficult job after decades of centralisation where power has slipped away in the direction of the big city along the A96. We are promised a bit of a new deal by the current Highland Council administration with the creation of the Nairn Badenoch and StrathSpey area committee. There are those that don't think that will take us very far but to be fair to Drew Hendry we have to wait and see what comes out of that one. Colin and Liz too are confident that we'll see an improvement and have indicated such on social networks. The meetings coming up tonight of the Community Councils (in the Community Centre 7.30 p.m) and NICE tomorrow (same time and place) will most likely debate this democratic deficit again, not head on but it will be implicit within many presentations and points of view that will be heard from the floor. 

This observer receives regular newsletters from an organisation called the Scottish Community Alliance and they often discuss subjects that have echoes in Nairn. The header on their latest newsletter read "local people leading" and went on to say:

"At last week’s gathering of Scotland’s community controlled housing associations, Local Govt Minister Derek Mackay was dropping hints on the likely content of the forthcoming Community Empowerment Bill - cranking up expectations yet further. The Minister clearly intends this piece of legislation to remove long standing barriers that get in the way of communities taking more control of their own affairs. To hear this kind of ambition from a Government Minister is really encouraging. But as the contributions of subsequent speakers served to illustrate, many of these barriers are the product of institutional mind-sets that instinctively resist any transfer of power to communities – and these may simply be beyond the reach of legislation."

Scottish Communities such as Nairn want change and the present administration in Holyrood seem to want to deliver some democracy back in this direction but willl "institutional mind-sets" be too much of an obstacle in the final analysis.  You can register for the Scottish Community Alliance's newsletter or simply have a read of their archives here. 

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