Event: Campaigners urge Scots to 'act as if we own the place’

Group urges locals to rethink what local power means as elections loom

RENEWING LOCAL DEMOCRACY will be the topic of an event due to be held tomorrow (Thursday 27 April) at the Glad Cafe in Glasgow at 7.30pm.

The event called ‘Our democracy: Act as if we own the place’ will be hosted by the pro-independence grassroots group Common Weal Glasgow and seeks to discuss structural and practical challenges facing local people in council authorities across Scotland.

Speaking will be Willie Sullivan, director of the Electoral Reform Society Scotland (ERSS), who will talk about how local people take back power from corporations and unresponsive officials to make politics and power more participatory idea.

Event: ‘Our democracy: Act as if we own the place’

Ahead of the event, Sullivan said: "Act As If We Own The Place is a coalition of organisations, who are dedicated to improving our local democracy. The campaign arises from a simple idea: that people flourish when they have control over their own lives. We think communities can shape local democracy to work better for them.

“At the moment most of us have things done to us; power exercised over us by the government, by the council, or by companies who don’t work with our community interests at their core. 
If democracy is about anything it is about us running our own affairs. That is why we are asking you to join us to discuss how we can ‘act as if we own the place'.

“There has never been a more exciting time to get involved for a better local democracy."

“The campaign arises from a simple idea: that people flourish when they have control over their own lives. We think communities can shape local democracy to work better for them.” Willie Sullivan

The ERSS has since 2011 been working on a range of proposals which seek to fundamentally change where power is held at a local level in Scotland. In this report ‘Democracy Max’ the body advocates 'mini-publics' - deliberative local groups working alongside representative democracy, empowering people to run their own towns and villages. Other suggestions would be a Citizens' Assembly - a chamber of citizens, possibly selected like a jury, to check and challenge the elected politicians.

In the run-up to this year’s local elections has seen a flurry of activity surrounding how to fund, empower and reform the way people interact with local power and politics. In the political sphere, the Scottish Labour party is looking at near annihilation and the possibility of being third behind the SNP and Scottish Tories.

This has happened against the backdrop of fewer resources for local councils and Westminster cuts which political opponents suggest the Scottish Government is failing to guard against. The Scottish Greens have advocated for a reform of council tax, land taxation and local spending while at the same time drawing concessions from the Scottish Government in last year’s Scottish Government budget.

The council elections will take place on May 4.

Picture courtesy of Common Weal Glasgow

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