Parliament's consultation paper published today points Scottish local
government in the right direction, reflecting the modernising agenda
set out by COSLA in its submission to the commission.
the idea of a covenant between the parliament and local government:
'Such covenant, setting out the principles of the relationship between ourselves, the parliament and its executive, is welcome, as is the idea of a joint forum where MSPs and local government representatives can meet on a basis of equality.'
Cllr Geddes also welcomed the commission's support for electoral
reform - provided that the essential link between councillor and
constituent is maintained - and for new forms of leadership for
councils, such as the cabinet system.
'Communities need and deserve clear vision and strong local
leadership,' he continued, 'that will be an important counter balance
in the new relationship between local government and the parliament.
'But we also need to recognise that there are still part of Scotland
where local government is not operated on a party political basis and
what might be the right for the West Isles will not work in Glasgow -
a blanket solution would be wrong and I am glad the commission has
COSLA's only objection is to the proposal that employees could be
councillors in the council which employs them.
'I understand the arguments - but I don't agree with the conclusions,'
Mr Geddes commented, 'there is a fundamental issue of conflict of interest which cannot be easily overcome.
'It is not sufficient, for example, to stop officers above a certain
salary level standing for election to their council, or to prevent a
teacher who is a councillor from being chair of an education
committee. Such proposals will not cover the situation where a
council could easily contain a majority of council employees.
'This is clearly undesirable - employment with a council is offered on
the clear understanding of the conditions that come with it and I
believe that is where the matter should rest.'