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KERLEY CALLS FOR PR, PAY AND CUTTING COUNCILLORS

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The Kerley report into local government in Scotland recommends a new electoral system, increased member allowances ...
The Kerley report into local government in Scotland recommends a new electoral system, increased member allowances and a major cull of members in many councils.

A majority of the Kerley committee, set up by the Scottish Executive to renew local democracy, is in favour of introducing the single transferable vote system to replace first past the post in local elections.

This could dramatically alter the political landscape in many parts of Scotland. For example, Labour would have to form a coalition with the Liberal Democrats to win power at City of Edinburgh Council. And the Scottish National Party would stand to gain several seats under the new system.

According to the report, job descriptions should be introduced and councillors should be paid more for their work, particularly those in senior positions. The leaders of Glasgow and Edinburgh should receive£41,255, the same amount as MSPs, says the report.

Eight councils would see a significant loss of members if the Kerley recommendations are adopted: Aberdeenshire (68 to 49-53), Fife (78 to 49-53), Glasgow (79 to 49-53), Highland (80 to 49-53), North Lanarkshire (70 to 49-53), South Lanarkshire (67 to 49-53), Perth & Kinross (41 to 29-33) and Western Isles (31 to 19-23).

Most recommendations in the report are concerned with widening access to local government. Women, ethnic minorities and young people are under-represented in local politics, it says.

Political parties should consider using a specific mechanism to increase the number of women selected as candidates. Councils should consider whether there are arrangements that discourage women from becoming councillors, according to the working party.

An action plan should be drawn up by the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities and representatives of people from ethnic minority backgrounds to encourage those from ethnic minorities to become councillors.

The age of candidates should be reviewed and the minimum reduced from 21 to 18. Councils also need to review working practices to encourage people with work and family commitments.

'We are confident our proposals and recommendations take forward the excellent work of the Commission on Local Government and the Scottish Parliament, and provide a solid platform to support all the changes occurring in local government,' said Richard Kerley, a senior lecturer at the University of Edinburgh.

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