Commission on Highland Democracy
A Commission on democracy in the Highlands is to be launched in June. The Commission will investigate the current state of democracy in the region, and start conversations about the kind of democracy we want to have.
The Highland Council has taken a keen interest in the work of the Commission on Strengthening Local Democracy and the report it published in 2014: ‘Effective Democracy: Reconnecting with Communities’. Building on this national discussion, Highland Council will continue conversations locally about the kind of democracy we want to have in the Highlands. This will include gathering a wide range of views from people across the Highlands on how best to enable public participation in decisions about public services, with a focus on the Council, and how to encourage good democratic practice. It could also help to inform the development of the Council’s localism action plan.
The Council has begun to take forward Localism by the establishment of seven new local committees with new and emerging local powers and joint work with partners to develop local community planning arrangements.
The Council has also trialled participatory budgeting in several locations, which enables local communities to decide how parts of ward discretionary budgets are spent locally. These have taken place in Lochaber, Caithness and Nairn, with events being planned for other areas during 2016.
Leader of the Council, Margaret Davidson said: “The Commission on Highland Democracy is an exciting opportunity to have discussions locally about the kind of democracy people want across the Highlands, and how the Council can help to deliver this. A lot of progress has been achieved with setting up the Commission, which will be chaired by Rory Mair. Potential commissioners have been identified based on their skills, profile, and ability to challenge the current state of local democracy in the Highlands.
“The plan is to launch the Commission in June, and to start taking evidence over the summer. An interim report will then be published in the Autumn, and final recommendations presented to the Council in December.”