Our guest speaker was Cllr Ronnie McColl leader of West Dumbartonshire Council talk who had kindly agreed to come and talk to our North Ayrshire SNP candidates about increasing participation and transparency in the council along with their approach to Youth Employment.
When elected in 2007, the SNP group took the bold stance of moving from a cabinet to a committee structure. This ensured that all elected representatives chosen by the people of West Dumbartonshire to speak for them took an active part in how the council was run. The SNP group also moved the full council meetings to the evening at 6pm. This made the process more accessible to members of the public and was warmly welcomed. Publishing a draft budget and engaging both council employees and residents in decision making through roadshow events continued in real practical terms their commitment of increasing participation and transparency.
With the challenging times we face economically, how Local Authorities work will be very much on the agenda. We will need to be positive and creative, doing things one way just because that’s the way it was always done should no longer be acceptable.
Participation, inclusiveness and transparency can sound a bit like management speak but, for me, personally it’s something to aspire to. The “experts” are often the people who use services and those on the front line delivering them. In my opinion engaging fully with them can only be a good thing.