The Scottish Government’s new Community Empowerment Bill is based on a lie – that you can empower a community without giving it any power.
The communities minister Marco Biagi describes the bill as “a momentous step in our drive to decentralise decisions and give people a stronger voice in their communities”.
In reality it is nothing more than a rehash of long-standing legislation on community planning, allotments, community right-to-buy, plus a couple of ill-defined rights for communities to take part in public decisions and service provision.
Oh yes – and some bizarre nonsense about taking over football clubs.
As for community councils – the only truly local democratic bodies in Scotland – these are reduced to the same status as any other community group, with no higher standing than a mother-and-toddlers group or a pensioners’ lunch club. In contrast England’s parish councils have a wide range of optional powers funded through a supplementary charge on council tax.
The question is, why does the Scottish Government feel that Scottish communities are unfit to have the same powers of self-governance as English communities?