In the predominantly ‘first past the post’
voting system it is very common for the winner to be
elected with the support of less than half of those
who voted. At the 2001 UK General Election 36 out of
72 MPs were elected with less than half the vote, and
3 were elected with less than one third of the vote.
A prison place costs £28,000 a year compared
with a place in supported accommodation linked to a
programme to reduce offending which costs £20,000
– a saving of £8,000 per place and with
more chance of success.
Inclusive and dynamic local communities have too long
been ignored as the basic building blocks of society.
Communities have to be involved in the decisions that
affect them, particularly those concerning long-term
development, service planning or regeneration. This
involvement should not be limited to consultation but
should include members of the community as active participants.
Decisions affecting communities should always be taken
at the most local level practical.
The Scottish Green Party believes that reinvigorating
communities is the surest solution to addressing social
problems such as crime, the alienation of the elderly
and vandalism. Although local and community councils
have a key role to play, they are not the only part
of this process. We also believe that crime can be managed
more effectively and fairly by increasing the use of
community sentences. Once the public is better informed
about how these programmes operate, we believe they
will command huge support.
Local councils have either been undermined or undervalued
in the past, despite their far greater impact on day-to-day
life than the national government. A renewal of local
democracy, greater economic and social interdependence
within communities and a reduction in unnecessary transportation
and commuting will enhance both the quality of life
and the environment.
Green MSPs will work for the following:
We will introduce the Single Transferable Vote
version of proportional representation, using multi-member
wards, in order to begin the process of reinvigorating
local democracy. Where available, local authority
contracts will be offered to companies with sound
environmental, social and ethical performance based
within that local area. We will resist proposals,
often stemming from international economic treaties,
which attempt to limit the rights of local authorities
to make these types of decisions.
We will introduce a Third Party Right of Appeal
for developments which require an environmental
impact assessment, developments in which the planning
authority has an interest, developments which are
contrary to the local development plan or approved
developments which were subject to planning officers’
recommendation for refusal. Strengthened planning
regulations on house building will also ensure that
environmental impact and community development are
given a higher priority than the profits of developers.
We will fully involve communities at the very beginning
of the process of developing local development plans.
We will ensure that these plans do not just set
purely economic targets, but also tackle issues
such as leisure time, children’s play space
and pollution reduction. Community councils will
be given greater support, most notably financial
support, and local councillors will be paid salaries
and face the same restrictions on gifts as MSPs
We will work towards the reformation of the prison
system to reduce prison population by using community
sentences and bail services. This will include the
expansion of rehabilitation and therapy facilities
in local communities and the provision of adequate
funding for agencies working for restorative justice
and local mediation and dispute-resolution centres.
We will also strive for special provision for offenders
who are mentally ill and for women who are pregnant
or who have babies or young children.
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