Communities Bill could see ‘biggest transfer of power since devolution’

Communities Bill could see ‘biggest transfer of power since devolution’

Wide-reaching proposals to empower local communities have been lauded as potentially "the biggest transfer of power since devolution".

Giving communities the power to have a say in their own public budgets and utilise unused land and buildings for community projects are among the reforms on a Bill currently being consulted on by the Scottish Parliament.

The proposed Community Empowerment and Renewal Bill would also give urban communities the same right to buy land as rural ones currently enjoy.

Local government minister Derek Mackay said the changes would allow communities to have more of a say in their own future and allow them to use public funds to target local issues.

He said: "The Bill is potentially the biggest transfer of power since devolution, transferring power from central and local Government to Scotland’s communities.

"We believe that the people of Scotland are best placed to take decisions about their future, both at a national and a local level.

"The Scottish Government wants to see all Scots having a greater say in shaping and deciding their own futures."

The consultation sets out a range of ideas to enhance community independence and follow "extensive discussion" with the public, private, third and community sectors.

Mr Mackay said he wants the Bill to play a part in a renewal of Scottish communities and that he hopes it will strip away "bureaucratic barriers".

He pointed to community gardens and pre-school care projects as just two ways in which Scottish communities could benefit from the reforms.

The minister added: "Travelling across Scotland I have seen at first hand the strong foundation of active communities we already have, and I want this proposed legislation to build on this.

"The ideas in this consultation are designed to strengthen community participation, unlock enterprising community development and renew our communities. We are determined that we develop effective legislation that will help meet our shared goal of empowering more of Scotland’s communities."