Just been having a wee browse of a recent Electoral Reform Society report, it says
"In a poll carried out in April 2016 by BMG market research for the Electoral Reform Society, 76% of Scots felt they had no or very little influence on council spending or services. This is a worrying number for democracy; the fundamental claim of a democratic system is that the people have a say. If this claim is not felt to be true, then trust in the system itself is undermined. This is borne out by another figure from the same survey: 51% of Scots think the local council operates in the interests of the people who run it, as opposed to 26% who think the council is run in the interests of local people"
This observer thinks that figure would probably be spot on for Nairn too, many of the serious students of local government matters will tell you that local wishes have been ignored by Highland Council for years. The report does go on to offer crumbs of comfort and hope however such as:
"For example, 30% of people think their councillors work hard compared to only 12% who don’t. Perhaps the most heartening thing is that people want their democracy to work better. Contrary to the ‘anti-politics’ narrative that is so often heard, Scots want more local representation. 78% of people would like more councillors if they were community volunteers and even more surprisingly, 68% want more councillors even if they were to be paid as they currently are."
Readers may remember that Provost Laurie Fraser was recently criticsed for calling for more councillors. This research would indicate that he is in tune with public opinion.
The report is a quick read if you have a few minutes to spare and will certainly chime with many of our readres, Here's another snippet:
"Democracy is about distributed power; structures which centralise or ‘suck it up’ feed a growing distrust in those past promises of freedom, democracy and equality. Across Scotland there are many examples of successful community action and self-managed local projects—but instead of getting the encouragement and support from state structures that could help these things become the norm, they are currently exceptions that have to overcome intimidating systemic barriers. This makes the lack of trust in existing democratic institutions even worse. But people doing things for each other and for themselves with sufficient resource and support is often the best way to rebuild democratic trust, and the most effective way of running the services communities need to thrive. It’s not hard to imagine that involving more local people in running their community will lead to improvements."
The Electoral Reform Society Report can be read here - have a look at what they think is the problem and what can be done in "Re-making Local Democracy".