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COUNCIL LEADERS SUMMIT TO LOOK AT MODERN DECISION-MAKING

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Scotland's council leaders will today look at ways of bringing their decision-making processes into the 21st centur...
Scotland's council leaders will today look at ways of bringing their decision-making processes into the 21st century.

At a summit meeting with ministers Wendy Alexander and Frank McAveety, leaders will hear from Edinburgh and East Renfrewshire Councils about their work towards cabinet-style systems. Discussions will focus on the need for reforms to reflect the rich diversity of Scottish local government.

Today's event in Pitlochry is the second meeting of the Community Leadership Forum, set up to share experience in the pursuit of modern local government.

Communities minister Wendy Alexander said:

'This forum is a valuable opportunity to exchange views and experiences on the self-renewal process now underway in Scottish local government. I am encouraged by the way councils are embracing reform - events like this will help ministers and council leaders forge a common vision for the future of local government.

'Councils recognise the critical role they must play in helping deliver our agenda for social justice. They know they need to adapt their style of organisation so they can be the driving forces for improvement in their communities.

'We asked every council to look at their decision-making structures and to bring forward their own proposals for change. Today we will hear from Donald Anderson of Edinburgh Council and East Renfrewshire's Owen Taylor about their innovative work on 'Cabinet' systems of government.

There will no doubt be agreement that cabinets are only one of a number of diverse models that could suit the widely differing circumstances of Scottish councils.

'This process is not about imposing a standard blueprint. It is about achieving democratic renewal by ensuring that decision-making structures are founded on principles of robust scrutiny, effective leadership, enhanced transparency and genuine debate.'

Deputy minister for local government Frank McAveety added:

'Leadership development is a key component of our modernisation programme for local government and is likely to be addressed at a future forum meeting.

'This was an important aspect of the McIntosh recommendations and I welcome COSLA's initiative in taking forward leadership development issues for councillors.'

BACKGROUND

1. The Community Leadership Forum first met in September 1999.

2. Councils' self-reviews of political decision-making processes are being guided and supported by the Leadership Advisory Panel chaired by Alastair McNish. The panel was appointed by the Scottish Executive last year following the McIntosh Commission report (published in June 1999) concerning political decision-making in local government. Councils are due to produce their change plans by the end of this year, when the panel will advise Ministers on the outcome of the reviews.

3. Panel membership:

Alastair McNish, Chair, former chief executive of South Lanarkshire Council

Anne Middleton - Deputy Scottish secretary, Unison

Charlotte Stenhouse - former chairman of Fife Health Board

Ian Percy - Chairman of the Accounts Commission

Duncan McGhie - Partner, Prince Waterhouse Coopers and Chairman, Scottish Opera

Oonagh Aitken - Chief executive, CoSLA

Pat Watters - Vice president, CoSLA

Maggie Symonds - Managing partner, Calico UK

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