Planned ‘improvements’ to ‘community empowerment’ to be interrogated tomorrow

THE extent to which the Scottish Government is committed to a promised review of community involvement in the planning system is expected to become clearer when two key government ministers appear tomorrow at a Scottish Parliament committee considering the issue.

It follows an overview of ‘community empowerment’ legislation and the conclusion that it could be ‘better’.

In June, the Local Government, Housing and Planning committee (here) published its conclusions on the Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act 2015.

Chief among its findings (here) – after sounding out various community groups – was “that in some areas [community voices] could be more effective or require more support and investment”.

In July last year, the Scottish Government announced – here – plans to “explore if the legislation is doing what it set out to do and if any changes are required”, adding that the review “will have a particular focus on community ownership and strengthening decision-making to improve outcomes for the local community”.

The Act requires every Scots local authority to have a Community Planning Partnership (CPP), which works with community bodies and brings together a wide range of partners to collaborate, to identify priorities and to share resources.

And adds the committee: “In future, CPPs should have a clear and defined role in any national guidance on the local response to emergency situations (such as another pandemic).

“Where there are examples of CPPs demonstrating best practice, the Scottish Government and the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities should ensure that this is actively shared across CPPs to help improve standards.”

The two government ministers expected to attend are Tom Arthur, Minister for Community Wealth and Public Finance, and Joe FitzPatrick, Minister for Local Government Empowerment and Planning.

They are expected to be joined by Councillor Steven Heddle, vice-president, Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (CoSLA); Andrew Connal, Community Planning and Public Service Reform team leader, Scottish Government; Kathleen Glazik, Community Empowerment team leader, Scottish Government; and Simon Cameron, chief officer, Workforce and Corporate Policy, CoSLA.

Picture credit: Place Design Scotland

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