Cllr Robert Brown

Scot­tish Lib­eral Democrats

Rutherglen Reformer - - News From The Pews -

South La­nark­shire Coun­cil has al­ways had a ma­jor­ity Labour ad­min­is­tra­tion or a Labour ad­min­is­tra­tion sus­tained by the Con­ser­va­tives which made lit­tle dif­fer­ence.

This May, no po­lit­i­cal party had a ma­jor­ity of seats.

The three main groups each had to elect a new leader, so there was very much a chang­ing of the old guard.

Even­tu­ally a mi­nor­ity SNP ad­min­is­tra­tion emerged. It is, though, a rul­ing group of only 25 – a full seven coun­cil­lors short of a ma­jor­ity.

This is a ma­jor op­por­tu­nity to open up the coun­cil and make it more ac­count­able and ac­ces­si­ble to the pub­lic.

The SNP have al­ready in­di­cated they want to set up a pe­ti­tions com­mit­tee – which Lib­eral Democrats also sup­port, but I want this as part of a wider pro­gramme to give the pub­lic bet­ter op­por­tu­ni­ties to in­flu­ence the coun­cil.

I want reg­u­lar town hall meet­ings where the coun­cil is ac­count­able to lo­cal peo­ple and or­gan­i­sa­tions on the bud­get, the op­er­a­tion of ser­vices and ma­jor lo­cal ini­tia­tives.

The coun­cil should be the show­piece of lo­cal democ­racy, de­bat­ing the big choices fac­ing the area, a reg­u­lar Ques­tion Time to grill ad­min­is­tra­tion lead­ers, and the ul­ti­mate de­ci­sion­mak­ing on key mat­ters.

This needs a re­form of the coun­cil’s stand­ing or­ders and a more out­ward-look­ing ap­proach by coun­cil lead­ers.

Much more power should be ex­er­cised lo­cally.

The area com­mit­tees should be strength­ened and the ar­range­ments for pub­lic con­sul­ta­tion re­formed.

The neigh­bour­hood boards in Fern­hill and Cathkin have been very suc­cess­ful but have re­cently been stripped of sup­port.

The hous­ing fo­rums have been less suc­cess­ful and bet­ter ways need to be found to con­sult coun­cil ten­ants.

Ruther­glen has al­ways been proud of its Royal Burgh – an in­de­pen­dent com­mu­nity with his­toric le­gal rights.

Yet the Royal Burgh her­itage hasn’t amounted to too much in re­cent years and it is time it was re­built as the fo­cus of lo­cal com­mu­nity pride.

Key to this is us­ing the tal­ents and ex­per­tise of the peo­ple in some of the amaz­ing lo­cal or­gan­i­sa­tions.

An open coun­cil, strong area com­mit­tees, the power of the Royal Burgh and other lo­cal tra­di­tions, more pow­er­ful pub­lic in­volve­ment – th­ese are the keys to a stronger lo­cal democ­racy in Ruther­glen and Cam­bus­lang and across South La­nark­shire.

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