Scottish Government is currently in the second phase of Democracy Matters, a consultation that began in 2017 to review how decision-making can be put in the hands of communities themselves.
In the first phase, more than 4,000 people took part in these national conversations. The findings overwhelmingly suggest that individuals want their input to have a tangible impact in decision-making and lead to practical action that improves their communities.
Priorities include transparency and accountability from the government—with communities being able to hold public bodies to account. Communities are also seeking an equitable share of influence and resources between themselves and local and national authorities.
While we welcome these ongoing discussions, it is clear that local democracy is still being overruled by decision-makers in the central government.
A prime example of this issue is the Scottish Government decision about the A9 Shinafoot Junction at Auchterarder.
Perth and Kinross Council’s planning committee refused an application from developers to change the requirement for both an on-slip road and an off-slip road junction with the A9. However, this decision has been overturned by the Scottish Government reporter.
As a result, the community of Auchterarder and Aberuthven is facing the prospect of significant increases in southbound traffic through the villages. This move is sharply opposed by members of the community as well as the Community Council, who are mobilising grassroots efforts to stop it.
A petition has been started by a resident of Auchterarder and Aberuthven with over 200 signatures so far and many personal statements from community members.
You can join their call by signing the petition or contacting your local MSP.
We are sharing this opportunity to remind decision-makers in central government that Local Democracy Matters to the residents of Perth and Kinross and is critical to the health of the third sector.