Lanark makes history again after 1041 years

The launch of the democracy review in Lanark's Castlebank Park, reputedly near the meeting place of Scotland's first parliament.
The launch of the democracy review in Lanark's Castlebank Park, reputedly near the meeting place of Scotland's first parliament.

Just yards from where the first ever Scottish Parliament reputedly met in Lanark in the year 978 AD, a revamp of how the nation is governed into the 21st century was unveiled.

While 1041 years ago, Lanark’s Castlebank area was the birthplace of national government, last Friday it was the setting for revealing the results of a survey among Scottish citizens on how they see local governance developing in the future.

It was launched at the now Castlebank Park by local MSP and Scottish Government communities minister Aileen Campbell. She stressed this was not just another local government review.

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said of the “Democracy Matters” consultation results: “Initial findings from the review show that people overwhelmingly want more say about how public services are run in their area.

“The review received more than 4,000 responses from across Scotland.

“Publication is the start of a process that could mean communities are given direct control of specific public services.

“The Scottish Government is working with COSLA on the next stage of the review, which will look further into the type of powers communities would like to control.

“The results of the final review will be published in 2021.

Said Aileen Campbell MSP: “A wide range of people with very different backgrounds, experiences and interests overwhelmingly responded that they want to have more say about how local public services are run in their area.

“We want to see a step-change in democracy in Scotland where decisions on public services are made in communities - where they have the biggest impact.

“Options are open as to what services are devolved, and there is still a lot of detailed work to do but we have the opportunity to shape the future of democracy so local communities can really flourish.”

Talking after the launch, M. Campbell said that this is not a proposal for the third reform of Scotland’s local government system in 45 years; what it was was an exercise in seeing what national and local government services could be ‘devolved’ down to local communities where local knowledge could inform decisions.