Community Development

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 do.

  • 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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Scottish Green Party, PO Box 14080, Edinburgh EH10 6YG
Tel / Fax: 0131 478 7896