Democracy Matters conversation analysis published

The Scottish Government and COSLA have published an analysis of the Democracy Matters consultation, run last year as part of the Local Governance Review.

Democracy Matters sought the views of people and communities around their involvement local decision making.

The consultation asked five main questions over a series of events and online surveys, with more than 4,000 people sharing their views, along with organisations such as SCDC.

In a joint statement, the Scottish Government said that “options are open as to what services are devolved“ following this consultation and also said that legislation around the Local Governance Review would not be brought forward in this parliament.

The report has sections for each of the five questions. We've listed them below, extracted the summary and linked to each section.

Read the full report here.


1. Tell us about your experiences of getting involved in decision-making processes that affect your local community or community of interest?

“People described many different experiences of local decision-making, both positive and negative. In a minority of cases, people had no experience of involvement in decision-making. There were many positive experiences described. These were often accompanied by frustrations people had about the system and the difficulties in effecting change.”

More here.

2. Would you like your local community or community of interest to have more control over some decisions? If yes, what sorts of issues would those decisions cover?

“The clear evidence from the submissions to DM is that people do want to have more control of decisions on issues that matter to them. This is particularly the case for decisions that are seen to directly affect communities, the control of which should be exercised more locally. The vast majority of submissions expressed views that demonstrate a strong desire for a change to the status quo.”

More here.

3. When thinking about decision-making, ‘local’ could mean a large town, a village, or a neighbourhood. What does ‘local’ mean to you and your community?

“Many submissions described local in terms of a specific place, or geography. For example, it was simply identified as ‘my town’, ‘my village’. In a large city, some submissions described local as being ‘the neighbourhood’. A distinction was often drawn in this case between what were seen as the artificial boundaries around which different public services and councils were organised, and what was described as ‘natural communities’, that made sense to people locally.”

More here.

4. Are there existing forms of decision-making which could play a part in exercising new local powers? Are there new forms of local decision-making that could work well? What kinds of changes might be needed for this to work in practice?

“Across the broad sweep of responses, many existing forms of decision-making were identified that, with changes, might play a role in bringing communities closer to, or involved in local decision-making. Most often mentioned were community councils, but also community development trusts, community-based housing associations and forums/partnerships that brought together other local community organisations. There was a common view that any new arrangements should reflect local circumstances; that ‘one size does not fit all’.”

More here.

5. Do you have any other comments, ideas or questions? Is there more you want to know?

“There was no single strong general message from responses to this question. Many submissions focused on reiterating points made earlier, particularly in relation to the need for change.

“Many expressed the importance of hearing back what was going to happen next in the DM process.”

More here.