How best to involve communities and allow them to influence decisions will be the focus when the Scottish Parliament’s Local Government and Regeneration Committee visits Dumfries later this month.
On Monday 27 October, the Committee will hold a series of meetings to hear what communities in Dumfries and Galloway think of the Community Empowerment Bill, currently being considered by the Committee.
The Bill will change how communities can become involved in a wide range of actions and decisions which affect them. Changes are proposed to the community planning system, a widening of the right to buy for communities, as well as the introduction of a right to influence local services called ‘participation requests’. The Bill also proposes a new asset transfer process, and updating of allotment legislation.
Committee Convener, Kevin Stewart MSP said:“At the heart of this Bill are communities and our Committee wants to hear from those in communities about what they think of these new rights and processes.
“One of the aims of the Bill is to ensure that local people have a greater and more meaningful say in the improvement of public services in their area. We want to explore how this could work in practice and if communities would use these powers.
“It is vital that we hear from the wide range of people who will be affected by this Bill. Only by doing this can we be sure that the changes proposed will empower all sections of communities and make a real and meaningful difference to ensure the voices of Scotland’s communities are both heard and acted upon.”
The Committee will hear from the Co-Directors of ‘The Usual Place’ who are setting up a community café which will provide opportunities for young people with additional support needs. The Committee will then hold a community engagement session to hear the views of individuals and organisations on community empowerment.
In addition the Committee wants to hear what the public has to say on the Air Weapons and Licensing Bill and the afternoon stakeholder session is the ideal opportunity to make your views known on this.
The Committee will also hold a formal meeting at which it will take evidence from a number of witnesses on the parts of the Bill dealing with participation requests and asset transfer requests.
Following the meeting, there will be a chance to put questions to the Committee as it hosts a Q&A sessions on topics discussed at the meeting.
Places are limited for both the afternoon community engagement event and the public gallery during the formal meeting, so booking is essential.
To attend the afternoon engagement event or the Committee meeting please contact the Local Government and Regeneration Committee via email: firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also call 0131 348 6040 or 0131 348 5223 to book a place. A flyer for the events is available here:
Witnesses from the following organisations will be giving evidence during the formal Committee meeting:
Scotland’s Rural College
Scottish Woodlot Association
Dumfries and Galloway Third Sector Interface
Dalbeattie Community First Responders
Castle Loch Lochmaben Community Trust
NHS Dumfries and Galloway
Dumfries and Galloway Council
South Lanarkshire Council
Scottish Borders Council
The Community Empowerment (Scotland) Bill was introduced in June 2014. The Bill’s policy memorandum states that the Bill reflects the Scottish Government’s policy principles of subsidiarity, community empowerment and improving outcomes.
The Committee’s call for evidence received more than 160 submissions, all of which can be found here:
More information on the Bill can be found here:
To keep up to date on the Committee’s scrutiny of the Bill, please follow the Committee’s Twitter feed @SP_LocalGovt