Local power

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Michael Gallagher (Letters, 29 June) very accurately summarised the irrelevance of the Community Empowerment Bill and the systematic and deliberate disempowerment of community councils.

In Britain generally we do not have local government and democracy with anything like the constitutional status and genuine power enjoyed by much of continental Europe, but there is no doubt that English parish and town councils are significantly more powerful than Scottish community councils.

If the community empowerment legislation equates community councils with voluntary groups this is nothing new.

As a community councillor, I have encountered local authority officials who compared us to the Boy Scouts, and it has long been clear that Cosla and its members are determined that community council status will be restricted to that level.

This implies no criticism of voluntary community organisations but the community councils are officially supposed to be the most local level of our local government system.

Of course the present Scottish Government has worked hard to undermine and disempower the Scottish local authorities themselves and it would seem there is little likelihood that their drive for ever greater centralisation within Scotland will be halted.

Government rhetoric is currently strong on the granting of greater powers to the island groups.

Why stop there? We need real democratic power to be 
the right of all, at local authority level and at community 
level.

Ronald MacLean

By Beauly

Inverness-shire