​​​​​​​Commission on Highland Democracy report launched

At the launch (back ltr) Cllr Jimmy Gray, Cllr Callum Smith, Isobel McCallum, Cllr Alasdair Christie, (front ltor) Cllr Richard Laird, Rory Mair, Cllr Margaret Davidson
At the launch (back ltr) Cllr Jimmy Gray, Cllr Callum Smith, Isobel McCallum, Cllr Alasdair Christie, (front ltor) Cllr Richard Laird, Rory Mair, Cllr Margaret Davidson

The Commission on Highland Democracy has this week launched its report at the meeting of The Highland Council.

The Commission, which was supported in its work by The Highland Council, but is independent, has produced a comprehensive analysis of the state of democratic participation in Highland.

Commissioners, drawn from across public life in Highland, considered the many submissions received from people and groups across the area before setting out key findings. The report also plots out suggested next steps for The Council and its partners to consider.

Rory Mair the Commission’s Chair said: “The Commission has worked hard to, first and foremost, get out and about and listen to people in communities across Highland. They discovered that there is really an appetite among those that live in Highland to get involved in the democratic process which shapes their communities.

“We found that people consider decision making to be centralised, not because it takes place a long distance from them. Rather, they feel that centralisation occurs when a small group of highly empowered individuals take decisions in a way that has little reference to anybody outside the decision making group and in an exclusive way. It matters little where decision makers are situated and much more how they go about their business. People want a relationship with decision makers in which they are involved and engaged on an ongoing basis.

“The Commission has identified these and other issues, but has also suggested a way forward for the Council and other organisations who support our communities in the Highland to consider.”

Councillor Margaret Davidson, Leader of The Highland Council, welcomed the report saying: “Highland Council agreed to establish an independent commission in March 2016 to explore the current state of democracy in the Highlands, and to have conversations locally about the kind of democracy people want to have.

“We know from our annual survey work that very few people in the region feel that they are involved in how the Council spends its money, or feel that they have any influence over decision making in their local area and Rory and his fellow Commissioners have worked hard to produce a report that is based on hearing what our communities have to say about this. They have brought their vast experience of serving Highland communities to bear in proposing actions that we and our partners should now consider. I am delighted to receive this report today and I am confident that this will help shape our thinking to improve and enhance democracy in the Highlands.”

The final report is available on the Commissions website at:   https://highlanddemocracy.wordpress.com/

15 Dec 2017
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