The Local Governance Review has brought an increasing focus on the democratic deficit that exists within Scotland and an ambition to devolve more power to more local levels. If this opportunity is to be realised, then widespread community involvement in the review process will be vital.
However, with many communities experiencing consultation fatigue, after years of being asked to contribute their energy and ideas only to see no real action emerge, the opportunity to hold a Democracy Matters conversation may not be top of their collective to do list.
From Corra Foundation’s work in Getting Alongside Communities we know through conversations and the use of tools like the Place Standard that many communities currently feel they have little influence let alone control over the decisions which affect them.
We also know that, with the right structures in place, communities are well placed to develop solutions to the challenges they are facing – and have seen the transformational impact on individuals and communities when they are genuinely empowered and in control.
On paper there is a strong correlation between the ambition of the People in Place programme – which supports subsidiarity, innovation, participation and wider system change – with the Local Governance Review. In both cases, the key to translating this ambition into local action is in the hands of communities.
Encouragingly, many of the communities we are working alongside are planning to contribute their views.
The big question between now and November is how many others will see the opportunity presented by Democracy Matters to fundamentally re-shape local governance and support genuine local decision making in Scotland?