Community Choices fund: new money for participatory budgeting

(adapted from an email from Citizen Participation Network.)

New: Community Choices Fund announced for 2017/18

The Scottish Government has announced the £1.5 million fund will be open for applications until 21st July 2017.

First launched in 2016/17, the Community Choices Fund has supported participatory budgeting (PB) in Scotland.

For 2017/18, £1.5 million of the Community Choices Fund is available in two categories of £750,000 each:

  • Category one for Public Authorities which includes Local Authorities and other Public Bodies.
  • Category two for Community Organisations and Community Councils.

The fund aims to support PB activity which will significantly expand opportunities for more local people to make decisions on local spending priorities and contribute to local participatory democracy.

Targeted particularly at work in deprived areas, the fund aims to build on the support provided by the Scottish Government for PB since 2014 as part of a broader agenda around democratic innovation and engaged citizenship.

The closing date for applications is midnight 21 July 2017.

More information: https://pbscotland.scot/blog/2017/6/9/community-choices-fund-announced-for-201718

The Scottish Planning System – response to Scottish Government’s Consultation on Planning Reform

In January 2017, the Scottish Government published a consultation paper ("Places People and Planning") which provided details of the proposed changes to the planning system in Scotland. This was in response to an independent review of the Scottish planning system in May 2016, Empowering Planning to Deliver Great Places”.

NTBCC submitted comments to the initial independent review in August 2016 (which can be viewed here) as well as responding to these latest Scottish Government (SG) proposals, titled "Places People and Planning" ; this April 2017 NTBCC submission can be viewed here.

Overall, NTBCC were disappointed in the SG response to the Independent review’s recommendations. Planning should and can provide a long-term perspective, tackling important issues such as development delivery, health, inclusion, environmental quality and climate change. But the SG response is too vague; containing too many aspirational proposals and too much “sloganeering” with too few practical detailed actions. The importance of creating “place” is barely touched on. Despite statements about increasing “people” involvement, too many of the suggestions imply drawing control into the centre. We believe that considerably more work is required to redress these issues and we hope that following further consultation, a more meaningful proposal will emerge.

Key NTBCC comments to the latest SG proposal include :

  • Questioning the lack of defined role for Community Councils in “Community Partnerships” (which are aimed at aligning community planning and spatial planning) and further examination of Community Councils’ status within the formal planning process.
  • Concern over the very limited statements covering the role of planning in achieving high quality place making, urban design, landscape and architecture. We believe that the aims should be rewritten to include protection and enhancement of our distinctive places and high quality environment; ensuring that changes are in keeping with and of comparable quality with the established townscape.
  • The real or perceived effectiveness of the Pre-application consultation process and the need to lower the threshold for what constitutes a “major development”.
  • Raising many concerns with the current planning process which undermine public trust e.g. questionable decisions following appeals ; accountability of Councillor’s decisions (no record of individual votes) ; attritional approach to gaining approval by some developers by resubmitting almost identical applications; lack of enforcement (adequate powers exist but local authorities frequently too timid or risk-averse to exercise them) ; concern over the decision-making process where the local authority is also party to the development.
  • Questioning the absence of proposals to extend the right of appeal to objectors in certain cases e.g. when an application has been approved (often on appeal) contrary to the officials’ recommendations and to the council’s own adopted policies ; or where the local authority has a financial or other interest.
  • Support in principle for an infrastructure levy for specific developments but with some caveats.
  • Support for increasing planning fees for larger developments to reflect the added complexity but noting that this needs to provide a more dedicated service.
  • Ensuring that the planning service is properly trained and resourced to deliver good planning.

Thanks to Stephen Hajducki for drafting this response for NTBCC.

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Land Rights and Responsibilities Statement: A Consultation

Separate from its consultation on the planning system, the Scottish Government is consulting its Land Rights and Responsibilities Statement, ‘a set of principles with an overarching vision that will guide the development of public policy on the nature and character of land rights and responsibilities in Scotland.’

To tell the Scottish Government what you think, go to https://consult.scotland.gov.uk/land-reform-and-tenancy-unit/land-rights-and-responsibilities-statement. This consultation closes on 10 March 2017.

Places, people and planning: consultation on the future of the Scottish planning system

The Scottish Government is consulting  on proposals to change the planning system. NTBCC encourages residents with concerns about the current system to read the proposals and tell the government what you think. Responses to this consultation are invited by 4th April 2017. To read the proposals and to make a response go to https://beta.gov.scot/publications/places-people-planning-consultation-future-scottish-planning-system.

NTBCC is also keen to represent your views - so if you wish please also tell us what you think of the government proposals via our contact page: http://www.ntbcc.org.uk/contact. Thank you!

What are your priorities for the police service?

(adapted from a post on Leith Links CC's website)

The Scottish Government is reviewing the Strategic Police Priorities set under the Police and Fire Reform (Scotland) Act 2012.

 The first stage of this review is a broad discussion centred around the question ‘What are your priorities for your police service?’: https://ideas.scotland.gov.uk/strategic-police-priorities. The consultation is open until 12 February 2016.

They want to hear from members of the public, communities, local police scrutiny committees, and all those involved in issues connected to policing in Scotland about what is important to you. As with most consultations, the more responses the better so please do share.