Kinross Town Hall & Public Library lying derelict and abandoned.

Responses to a consultation on what the Scottish Government’s Community Empowerment and Renewal Bill should contain closed in September and will be published soon.

This is my response in which I open by placing concerns over community empowerment firmly in the context of Scotland’s failed democracy and the relentless centralisation of political power (see Campaign for REAL Local government). Without addressing such key governance issues, community empowerment risks becoming the same kind of sop that the creation of community councils were in 1975 when Scotland’s local government was eliminated, leaving us as the least democratic country in most of Europe as the table below illustrates.

Country No. municipalities Median population Sq. km.
France 36781 380 11
Germany 12013 6844 15
Spain 8112 564 35
Italy 8100 2343 22
Belgium 589 11265 40
Norway 431 4439 465
Sweden 290 15039 672
Scotland 32 115000 990

The saga of the Town Hall continues with the refusal of planning consent on Wednesday (it is interesting to note that Kinross-shire is now so insignificant politically that the Courier files the online story in the ../News/Fife.. directory.


Responses to the Community Empowerment and Renewal Bill are now published and can be found from a link on the Scottish Government’s website here. Today, Alex Salmond is expected to announce that the Bill will form part of the Scottish Government’s legislative programme for the coming year.

The Town Centres Review was published in July 2013.

On Thursday this week, Stirling Councillors meet to decide the fate of the King’s Park (item 19 on agenda). This is the first time the new Council has the opportunity to consider the plans developed by the last council. For a critique of these see this post and for background documents see here.

Since then, the historic importance of the site has been affirmed by a group of leading historians including the Historiographer Royal, Professor Chris Smout. The UK government has also responded to the recommendations of the Scottish Affairs Committee report (see quoted extracts here) and ruled out the transfer on the flimsiest of grounds. In its report of 10 July 2012, it claims at para 7.6 that,

The King’s Park, Stirling cannot, however, be among these. After lengthy negotiations, the Crown Estate recently agreed a market price for its sale to Stirling Council, so transfer at nil cost would be incompatible with the Crown Estate’s statutory responsibilities.

What this argument in fact reveals is that in fact it is only because Stirling Council agreed in the past to raid the Common Good Fund and buy the King’s Park that the UK Government and the CEC can even make this argument.
The straightforward answer for Stirling Council is to take the deal off the table on Thursday. Then proper negotiations can take place with a view to transferring the site to Scottish Ministers – discussions which, as this letter reveal, are already underway.
UPDATE 1019hrs 12 October 2012 – I understand that the Council has voted to defer any decision.