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MEMBERS FEEL HURT BY HOLYROOD

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Nearly half Scotland's councillors believe devolution has harmed the standing of local government, according to a s...
Nearly half Scotland's councillors believe devolution has harmed the standing of local government, according to a survey.

But the study by researchers at Strathclyde University still found there was overwhelming support for the Scottish Parliament among elected members and officials in local government north of the border.

In a report of mixed conclusions, 48% of councillors said councils had been marginalised since Scotland got its own national parliament.

Council officials said they regarded the civil service with a degree of mistrust and had lost contact with Westminster MPs - apart from on a party political level.

The Convention of Scottish Local Authorities also came in for criticism with 40% of councillors thinking it was too close to the Scottish Executive.

The report warned one of the aspirations that underpinned Scottish devolution was that a new form of governance would be created.

This 'new' politics had not been realised because of the problem of distrust between and among the country's civil servants.

The study, produced for the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, said: 'While many had hoped devolution would produce a new politics, progress has been limited and Scotland has yet to fully free itself from the old politics of the past. If devolution is to produce new goals and a new history then it must make progress on this issue more than on anything else.'

On the plus side, many of those interviewed said they thought the Scottish Executive was striving to be more 'open and inclusive' and virtually no one called for a return to the pre-devolution state of affairs.

Professor John Fairley, co-author of the study, said: 'While devolution may not have realised all expectations, it is perceived to have brought significant improvements in the way that Scotland is governed.'

A total of 120 personal interviews with Scottish Executive ministers, civil servants, senior councillors and officials from 11

councils were conducted to compile the report.

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