Wednesday, September 02, 2015

Glenurquhart Rd caving in to Nairnshire separatist pressure? - A local democratic experiment? Devo max for Nairnshire coming up if it works out?

We've just been browsing a paper that is going before the full Highland Council tomorrow, it's called "Strengthening Local Democracy" and we've extracted a few bits for serious students of the Nairn's democratic deficit when it comes to matters of what is effectively Glenurquhart Road rule.

"Summary. This paper sets out proposals for strengthening local democracy, affecting current Area Committees in some areas initially and in creating new arrangements for local community planning. These need further discussion with partners; although there are changes that can be made to localise Council decision-making should Members agree. The new arrangements proposed would evolve over time, be experimental and should support the implementation of the new legal duties arising from the Community Empowerment Act"

"2.2 Where the first local democratic experiments could be Based on discussions with Members locally, the areas seeking most change at this time to local democracy and to experiment locally are: Caithness; Sutherland; Nairn; and Badenoch and Strathspey."

"2.8 While the vision for each area clearly sets out what Members seek to achieve, progressing with this requires collaboration from partners. Ideally local conversations between local Members and the local partners should take place. These would be around the vision statement, how partners can participate and how in practice they could take this forward locally. The result should be: 
• agreement of which organisations would be involved locally and who would represent them;
• any amendments to the vision; 
• local proposals on how to organise the deliberation and governance around the vision."

From 2:17 of the document:

"2. It is proposed that we create separate local forums for local governance in each of the four areas. The title can be decided and if preferred consulted on locally. Nairn Members previously proposed a ‘Nairn Community Partnership’ for example. Using ‘Area Committee’ may deter partners and communities from participating."

"2.21 When they could start We should seek to start the new ‘Local Forums’ as soon as local Members and partners can agree and ideally during 2015. It may require the Council to begin the formal part of the ‘Local Forums’ in advance of the partnership agenda if partners engagement takes longer to arrange. New devolved Council budgets would take effect from 1.4.16."

From 5 Recommendations: 

"5.3 Members are asked to agree that to localise decision-making that: 1. We disband the two Area Committees covering Caithness and Sutherland and Nairn and Badenoch and Strathspey as soon as practicable and establish new forums for local community planning that serve each of the four areas separately as set out in paragraph 2.17. These would engage with relevant local partners (pending their agreement) and offer better ways of engaging local community bodies and individuals and help implement the Community Empowerment Act. Council business (decision-making and scrutiny) would be considered separately in these forums. The Scheme of Delegation is amended accordingly."

Any thoughts out there in Gurnshire? Could a "Nairn Community Partnership" tomorrow become a "Nairn District Council" a year or two down the line?  Time for the Nairnshire Liberation Front and the People's Front for the Liberation of Nairnshire to stand down?

You can read the full document by going onto the Highland Council agenda for tomorrow and clicking on item 14b to download a copy or there's a copy of one online here. 


Anonymous said...

We need local government reorganisation. There are some services that might be better centralised - but many could and should be planned, managed and/or procured and delivered locally. Anything short of an actual directly-elected Council is a compromise. The area committee was a step in the right direction and this development is a further step. But - like Oliver - we want (need and deserve) more!
A couple of years is in my view out of the question. But keep the pressure up on Holyrood and on CoSLA is my recommendation. Other countries still have "local" government - and so do parts of Scotland. Highland doesn't. Sadly we were sold short by Westminster's Tories and the very eloquent Peter Peacock. I believe he recognises the folly. There are growing numbers of policy makers at Glenurquart Road and in Edinburgh who recognise the democratic deficit - but they need people at every opportunity to make and strengthen the case.

Phillip said...

Ha ha. I know one Nairn person who'll be very upset if the area committees are disbanded