SNP ‘should hand powers back to local communities’

Willie Rennie said the SNP needs to abandon the 'Holyrood knows best' approach. Picture: Jane Barlow
Willie Rennie said the SNP needs to abandon the 'Holyrood knows best' approach. Picture: Jane Barlow
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THE SNP Government must abandon its “Holyrood knows best” approach and hand new powers back to local communities under flagship plans for greater devolution to Scotland.

Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie is calling for a “parallel process” to agree new legislation which will give Scottish local councils the powers set out in the Smith Agreement.

The UK Government is expected to publish the draft clauses this week needed to enact the Smith Commission plans to hand more powers to Scotland after the referendum No vote.

The deal states this should mean the “transfer of powers from Holyrood to local communities” and the Lib Dem leader says council tax and business rates, paid locally, should no longer be “centralised” in Edinburgh.

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Mr Rennie said on a campaign visit to the Borders: “The Scottish Government has space in its legislation to honour the Smith Agreement. It must commit to a twinned track approach to decentralisation across Scotland. For that commitment to be credible with communities across Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon must make that guarantee this week.

“Failure to transfer powers across Scotland at the same time as they are being transferred to Scotland will be a profound breach of the Smith Agreement by the SNP.”

Mr Rennie said the SNP has centralised decisions on police, fire, council funding and local health provision in Edinburgh.

“Since 2007 the SNP Government has centralised power and decision-making in the central belt, away from local communities,” Mr Rennie said.

“The unhealthy principle that Holyrood knows best must be abandoned.”

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