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ELECTION BAN MAY BE LIFTED ON SCOTTISH COUNCIL EMPLOYEES

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The McIntosh Commission is set to recommend the easing of rules which prevent an estimated 300,000 local authority ...
The McIntosh Commission is set to recommend the easing of rules which prevent an estimated 300,000 local authority workers in Scotland from standing as councillors in their own areas, according to The Scotsman (p4).

If accepted, the recommendations could mean that council staff seeking election to their own authorities will no longer first have to give up their jobs. It could also mean senior officials being allowed to take in political activity - including selection to the Scottish, Westminster or European parliaments.

It is understood that the commission, chaired by Neil McIntosh, the former chief executive of Strathclyde Region, has concluded that the current rules are a denial of civil rights.

The commission will today publish its interim findings, which will be put out to consultation. If they receive a positive response, they will be formalised into a recommendation which will ultimately go before the Scottish parliament's first minister.

Unison will give the move added impetus this week, when its local government officer, Mark Irvine, will write to the 72 Scottish MPs and the leaders of the 32 local authorities asking for their support.

Mr Irvine said: 'Now that we have unitary authorities we believe the 1973 [local government] Act prevents the best part of 300,000 people from standing for their local council. The 1988 Act includes relatively mundance things like handing out leaflets - any support for a political party is in breach of the law.

'We are hopeful the McIntosh Commission will support in principle the system used in Germany, where people are allowed to stand but have to resign their posts if they are successful.'

However, the Scottish Conservative leader, David McLetchie, said: 'I believe the status quo must be maintained to retain confidence in the system. Lifting the ban on senior officers seeking election to parliament would be a retrograde step which would undermine public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of local government service.'

He added: 'There is also a clear conflict of interest in anyone seeking to becomea councillor in the authority which employs them.'

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