Stage 1 Debate on the
Governance (Scotland) Bill
Wednesday 24th March the Scottish Parliament will undertake a Stage
1 debate on the Local Governance (Scotland) Bill. UNISON Scotland supports the
main thrust of the Local Governance (Scotland) Bill and the move to introduce
proportional representation although we have some concerns relating to the voting
The Electoral System for Local Government Elections
Scotland supports the proposals within the Bill relating to the introduction of
the single transferable vote (STV) for local government elections as this would
produce a result which more fairly represents the spectrum of opinion within the
electorate. UNISON Scotland also believes that PR will improve decision making
in councils, will help develop a more consensual style of politics where elected
representatives truly consider the interests of the community they represent and
will also help engage more people.
Scotland further supports the introduction of three or four member wards. The
larger member wards will still be able to maintain the ward-councillor links,
which are crucial to ensuring that individual councillors remain accountable to
their local communities. If ward sizes were any larger than four members, the
ward member link would be at best tenuous.
SCOTLAND firmly believes that all electoral systems should be fair, open and democratic
and encourage participation from groups which are currently under-represented
– women, people with disabilities, people from ethnic minorities, lesbians and
gay men and younger people.
Age Limit for Local Government Candidates
Scotland supports any move which encourages participation from young people in
the electoral process and while encouraged by the move to reduce the age limit
for local government candidates from 21 years to 18, UNISON Scotland believes
that the age limit should be reduced even further to 16 years. UNISON Scotland
believes that that this is an opportunity for Scotland to lead the way by reducing
the age for voting and candidates especially as recent reports indicate that such
a change may be applied to General Elections.
in Scotland can marry at the age of 16, be called up to the armed forces, pay
tax and National Insurance. We believe that age discrimination is not only patronising,
but also serves to alienate young people from society. This can be clearly seen
in the rapid and disturbing growth of young people's disengagement from the electoral
and political system.
Restrictions on standing for local Government
UNISON Scotland warmly welcomes the move
to remove the requirement for council employees to resign on nomination as a candidate.
As local authorities are often the largest employers in their locality, in our
view these restrictions unfairly impact on an unnecessarily large number of people
who have useful local experience that would serve their constituents and communities
well in elected office.
UNISON Scotland believes that there
should be more extensive reform of the rules preventing serving councillors being
employees of the same council. We are of the view that elected members should
be able to retain their employment or seek employment when leaving office, with
the same local authority they represent, with appropriate safeguards to prevent
conflicts of interest arising. If private contractors working for a local authority
can be councillors we can see no reason for discriminating against directly employed
Remuneration for councillors
Scotland supports fairer provisions for the remuneration of councillors including
access to the Local Government Pension Scheme. This should include severance payments
on the same basis as applies to members of the UK and Scottish parliaments.
Scotland believes that the Scottish Parliament should take this opportunity to
revitalise democratic accountability in Scottish local government.
further information visit our website www.unison-scotland.org.uk
contact Kenny MacLaren, Information Development Officer, email@example.com