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Scottish Conservatives have declined a ground-breaking offer to take up a key position on the reformed Convention o...
Scottish Conservatives have declined a ground-breaking offer to take up a key position on the reformed Convention of Scottish Local Authorities.

President Norman Murray was due to officially launch the new-look COSLA at a meeting today with the 22 spokespeople who will be responsible for proposing and developing policy. They will set up a loose structure of ad hoc task groups and networks and replace the old committee-based system of forums.

For the first time in the convention's history, these positions have been allocated among all the main political parties, giving 12 to Labour, three to the SNP, four to non-aligned members, two to the Liberal Democrats and, in theory, one to the Tories.

But Conservative group leader Daphne Sleigh has announced that the Tories would not be taking up the offer of spokesperson for the emergency services and community safety.

'The likelihood is, because of our own views on police matters, we would have been brought into conflict immediately with COSLA,' Ms Sleigh said.

Being a spokesperson also involved a lot of work, she added. 'The Conservatives don't control any council at all, so the kind of assistance we have is limited.'

Under the new structure, leaders of all 32 councils will meet eight times a year to decide policy. The full convention will meet three times a year.

'The thinking behind this informal system is driven by the desire to involve more councillors, not fewer, in the policy development process,' Mr Murray said. 'I hope we can all - regardless of political affiliations - work together to promote strong and effective local government in Scotland.'

COSLA is also due to launch its new parliamentary service tomorrow, providing councils with details on the process of legislation, parliamentary debates and announcements from the Scottish executive.

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