DANNY Alexander has warned the next “big fight” in devolution is to force the Scottish Government to hand back powers to local communities.
In an attack on the “super centralising” SNP, he accused Nicola Sturgeon of wanting to “renege” on the Smith Commission deal to devolve to local communities including powers over the Crown Estates. He said the “Nationalist philosophy” wants to have a “vice like grip”.
He said: “I think the real battle is for those of us who believe in devolution is over how do you wrestle power out of the hands of Holyrood and let it pass back to the people of Scotland.”
He said the control was also about silencing critics. “I think many people in public bodies and local authorities have been very unwilling to criticise government ministers because they think they will lose out if they speak out.”
However, a spokesman for Community Empowerment Minister Marco Biagi said: “On the day that an academic study reports that the Treasury and DWP performed an eleventh-hour U-turn in the Smith Commission negotiations and blocked the devolution of key tax and welfare powers to Scotland, this is a hugely hypocritical attack from Danny Alexander.
“We believe in decentralisation of power from the Scottish Parliament but also from city and council chambers. We abolished the ring-fencing used by the previous Labour/Lib-Dem Executive – giving councils far greater freedom in how they fund services – and through our Community Empowerment Bill we will ensure more participation and control at truly local levels with neighbourhoods taking more decisions for themselves.”
SCOTSMAN TABLET AND MOBILE APPS