Keith Brown pushes for cities convention

Keith Brown will highlight the plan in an address to local authority leaders from across the UK at a summit in Glasgow tomorrow. Picture: TSPL

Keith Brown will highlight the plan in an address to local authority leaders from across the UK at a summit in Glasgow tomorrow. Picture: TSPL

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THE CREATION of a Cities Convention as part of moves to hand more powers to local communities has been proposed by the Infrastructure Secretary.

Keith Brown will highlight the plan in an address to local authority leaders from across the UK at a summit in Glasgow tomorrow.

Ministers believe such a convention would “bring people and policy makers together, enable better understanding, improved policy and greater empowerment of communities”.

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Mr Brown, whose brief also includes cities and investment, will tell the Core Cities Summit that the Scottish Government’s approach to devolution does not stop at local authority level.

Through initiatives such as the introduction of the Community Empowerment Bill, the Government wants to see the balance of power move towards communities, he will say.

Speaking ahead of the summit, Mr Brown said: “The Scottish Government’s approach is one of partnership with local government - it is an approach that varies substantially from that taken in some other parts of the UK and is based on a shared vision of strengthened community planning, engagement and empowerment.

“But our approach to devolution does not stop at local authority level and through, for example, the Community Empowerment Bill, we want to help shift the balance of power more towards communities.

“Initiatives such as the Scottish Rural Parliament, which met for the first time last November, and our action to ensure island communities benefit from the revenue of the Crown Estate demonstrate our commitment to subsidiarity.”

Mr Brown said he wants to see the cities “engage” too.

“Scotland’s cities are already leading the UK on devolution - already in possession of powers their English counterparts are fighting for,” he said.

“For example, local authorities in Scotland already have an enshrined legal power to advance wellbeing - a wide-ranging discretionary power, set out in the Local Government in Scotland Act 2003. I would like to see every local authority in Scotland using this in the way it was intended, to listen to their communities, understand their priorities and use their power effectively to promote wellbeing.

“Devolution is not just about devolving from Westminster to Holyrood - or from Holyrood to the city chambers. Democracy is not about parliaments, councils or governments, it is first and foremost about people and communities.”

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