Our response to the Scottish Government Democracy Matters consultation is based on conversations we have had with people in communities and also on learning from our diverse range of work across Scotland.
In our response, we welcome the idea of people having more control over what happens in their communities, and suggest ways in which this might be done to broaden participation and ensure democratic accountability.
Our key recommendations include:
Measures to strengthen participation requests and the duties on community planning within the Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act.
Legislating for 1% plus for all public budgets to be decided through participatory budgeting processes.
Ensuring that existing community organisations with a democratic role (Community Councils), or any new structure which is developed, are subject to competitive election and are required to meet the duties of current and developing equalities and human rights laws.
Recognising the alignment of the new proposals on local governance with proposed planning legislation - in particular, for community-led action plans and local place plans to become one and the same thing and to act as a formal and democratic expression of community views and aspirations.
Giving consideration to awarding community-led action plans more status within statutory planning processes and spatial planning, i.e., legislating for public services to respond to community-led planning processes rather than the other way around.
Practical support and other measures to enable participation, including time-off work, expenses, education and protection for volunteers so that benefits aren’t affected.
Exploring models to increase participation in democratic processes through sortition, for example, citizen’s juries and assemblies.