Over 30 people from Kirriemuir, the wider Angus area and beyond attended an innovative democratic event, ‘Our Democracy: Act As If We Own The Place’ in the town on Saturday.
The event was co-hosted by Willie Sullivan, Director of the Electoral Reform Society Scotland, as the first of seven national consultation events designed to seek input from local communities about ‘our democracy’, in partnership with SNP Kirriemuir and Dean.
Discussions took place in small groups to explore how a modern democracy might emerge to fit the needs of local communities.
Julie Bell, convener of SNP Kirriemuir and Dean, said: “We were delighted that the participants reflected a very diverse range of political views, interests and community participation. The main political parties were keenly represented, as well as people with no political affiliation at all – absolutely everyone showed a lively enthusiasm to really start to do things differently. We were heartened that the format we used to structure discussion and ideas meant that similar themes and an ethos of consensus emerged effortlessly. It’s also fair to say we had some fun too.”
Underpinning the discussions were reflections on how European and Scandinavian countries have developed a workable locally-democratic structure and the key points of the COSLA Commission on ‘Strengthening Local Democracy’.
Guest contributor, Ewan Aitken, of the Cyrenians based in Edinburgh, and a Church of Scotland minister, was a member of the Commission, coming at the democratic process from a socially-just, faith-based perspective. Ewan spoke eloquently of the role of the Commission and described some contradictions in their ambitions for change, such as balancing locally-based decision-making and accountability with avoiding ‘post code lottery’ service provision.
As the national events progress, a report will be compiled and will lead to a conference in late summer.