Participation

Democracy Matters: public participation in 2024 and beyond

May 13, 2024 by No Comments | Category Children & young people, consultation, Democracy, Event, Get involved, Guest blog, Lived experience, Our work, Participation in action, Scottish Government insights

It’s has been an interesting and busy time for the Local Governance Review Team since the summer of 2023. Many events and conversations have taken place across Scotland exploring how decisions could be made by communities themselves. Now that the dust has settled, we wanted to share some highlights of the conversations we observed and how communities embraced Democracy Matters.

community event with audience in groups clapping 

Background 

If you want to learn more about the aims of the Local Governance Review and the previous engagement of the Democracy Matters conversation, you can read our previous blog post A national conversation on local democracy and community power and the findings report from the first phase of engagement before the pandemic. 

As part of the Local Governance Review, we launched the second phase of the Democracy Matters conversation last summer the launch event saw speeches to kick things off from Tom Arthur, Minister for Community Wealth and Public Finance, Joe FitzPatrick, Minister for Local Government Empowerment and Planning and the COSLA Presidential Team. The event had representation from the wider 

Linlithgow community, where the event was held, and from national community and equalities organisations. The buzz and creativity that was present that day was representative of the conversations that took place throughout the engagement process.  

The second phase of the Democracy matters conversation asked communities to contribute their ideas on what changes are needed to strengthen more local decision-making in Scotland. The range of communities of place and interest across Scotland who expressed their views and contributed their ideas to this was truly inspiring to see and our team had the privilege to be part of some of these conversations. 

Tom Arthur, Minister for Community Wealth and Public Finance speaking at an event Joe FitzPatrick, Minister for Local Government Empowerment and Planning delivering speech Shona Morrison, President of the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities

Community conversations: limitless possibilities

We were invited to take part in a community conversation hosted by A Heart For Duns, a development trust in the Scottish Borders. Facilitated by Development Trust Association Scotland, this session brought together a mixture of experiences and interests in the local community, with great views, rich lived experience and evident passion for making “local” work in Duns. A thoroughly wet and windy night but people still made the effort to attend and and take part, which really did demonstrate the will of those who care about their community! 

A community conversation hosted by A Heart For Duns, a development trust in Berwickshire A community conversation hosted by A Heart For Duns, a development trust in Berwickshire

We got to spend a wonderful three days with Children’s Parliament, they organised a residential event in the Trossachs for their Human Rights Defenders from all over Scotland where they created a town called “Confidence Kingdom”. This town was the collective vision of the members of Children’s Parliament of what a community could look like and how adults can make decisions with children directly instead of decisions on their behalf. 

This event really demonstrated that no matter what your age, you can still care about what goes on around you and want to have a say in how to make it better. Below we interviewed some members of Children’s Parliament to get their views on why people should be involved in decision making: Democracy Matters – Children’s Parliament’s Voice – YouTube 

The Glasgow Disability Alliance hosted a huge event focussed on Democracy Matters in the centre of Glasgow, bringing together over 200 people from across Scotland to discuss some of the topics covered in the consultation. The diversity of voices and perspectives that were brought together in this event showed the desire for more solutions to exclusion and inequalities across all levels of representation in Scotland. 

Next steps 

With the consultation now closed and the responses collated, the findings of those responses are being analysed with the aim of having a report available later in 2024.  

We want to thank everyone who got involved with Democracy Matters and appreciate the efforts it took to get your community together, share your views and bring them to us. 

If you want to hear about the next steps of Democracy Matters you can sign up to our newsletter, email us democracymatters@gov.scot and follow us on X (Twitter) @CommEmpower. 


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