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COMMUNITY ROLE COMING FOR SCOTS

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A handful of Scottish councils could become pilots north of the border for the government's reinvention of councils...
A handful of Scottish councils could become pilots north of the border for the government's reinvention of councils as community leaders.

A joint Scottish Office/Convention of Scottish Local Authorities report on community planning, due shortly, is expected to recommend imposing on councils a duty to undertake community planning. They would work in partnership with quangos and relevant bodies in their area.

This statutory backing for councils adopting a strategic role across their communities is viewed as critical by COSLA in legitimising their role as community leaders.

'If the role of a council is to be as a community leader, then it is wholly reasonable to give that expression in statute,' said COSLA chief executive Douglas Sinclair.

The convention says it puts councils in a much stronger position than proposals for England and Wales.

These merely envisage encouraging councils to act strategically through a power to promote the economic, social and environmental wellbeing of their area.

The Welsh Local Government Association is continuing to push for a duty to undertake community planning, backed up by laws requiring public bodies to have regard to these plans.

WLGA head of corporate affairs Paul Griffiths said this would not give councils the right of veto. 'But it would give us some kind of pre-eminent position.'

Mr Sinclair rejected the need for any legal coercion. The Scottish approach 'acknowledges that community planning needs the leadership of the council', he said.

'Partnership does require some leadership, but that leadership should be based on a consensual approach rather than a dictatorial one.'

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