Local democracy

Both Joyce McMillan (Perspective, 27 February) and Lesley Riddoch (Perspective, 2 March) are passionate advocates of participation in politics and “local democracy”. There is one outstanding problem about people’s participation in local authority politics, say, in Aberdeen or Aberdeenshire.

Apparently most council meetings, like full council and the committees, are typically held during the day.

Can anyone with a full or part-time job participate by attending committee and full council meetings? Also, most importantly, people with full-time jobs could find it difficult to become a councillor.

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What do proponents of local democracy suggest to overcome what seems to be an insurmountable problem? Are there any Scottish local authorities on which it’s the norm to hold all-evening meetings?

A reasonable hypothesis is that most councillors are retired, self-employed or have some independent unearned income. Of course some people may be attracted by the salaries, expense accounts and perhaps a pension.

“Passionate advocates” of local democracy would want all evening council meetings and to recreate the “ethos of public service” – no salaries.

Arguably, the nationalist government building on the recent resurgence of popular participation could legislate for these proposals to promote local democracy.

Ellis Thorpe

Old Chapel Walk


I totally agree with John Birkett (Letters, 2 March) that local decisions, wherever possible, should be taken by locally elected councillors.

Apart from the Madras College situation, we have planning refusals all over the country for wind farms appealed against by subsidy-thirsty developers and overturned by a Scottish Government- appointed Reporter.

This goes totally against Thomas Aquinas’s principle of subsidiarity which stated it is contrary to natural justice for a decision to be made at a higher level which can be taken at a lower level.

This principle is supposed to be at the heart of the EU – more honoured in the breach than in the observance, it would appear.

Colin McAllister

South Street

St Andrews