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Civil society demands local communities make decisions

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De-centralise power says the assembly

A coalition of civil society organisations has written a joint letter to call on MSPs to implement the findings of the landmark Citizens’ Assembly of Scotland.

The 60 proposals for Scotland’s future provide a template for more accountable ways of doing politics: for democracy to be genuinely local, grassroots, and not just an event every five years.

Assembly members of all backgrounds were clear that more needs to be done in Scotland to move power out of Holyrood and into local communities.

It comes as Holyrood is set to debate the assembly’s findings today. 

The assembly overwhelmingly recommended – with 90% support – establishing community-based citizens' assemblies to hold councils to account between elections and let residents shape their place’s future.

Willie Sullivan, director of the Electoral Reform Society Scotland, who organised the letter from nearly 20 community groups and campaigners across Scotland, said: “The Citizens’ Assembly showed Scotland can lead the way in building a stronger, more community-led democracy – with citizens themselves shaping the path forward for Scotland after this pandemic.

“But MSPs must do more than debate the findings – they must take forward proposals to boost scrutiny and transparency, and open up decision-making to local communities.

“From new local assemblies to a House of Citizens scrutinising legislation, politicians can start to share power and ensure that as we come out of this crisis, everyone has a stake in shaping what comes next.

“It’s abundantly clear that people want a clearer say in shaping their areas, and we need to see a vision for local democracy taken forward by MSPs that captures this. Despite the pandemic the Citizens’ Assembly was able to continue and make really powerful, creative recommendations for moving politics outside of town halls and into communities.

“The report must not be marked ‘job done’ – it’s a blueprint for a renewed Scotland, drawing on all this country’s experience.”