Law requiring community involvement in local public services comes into force

Kevin Stewart

A new law which requires local public services to involve communities in their work comes into force today.

Part two of the Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act 2015 places new expectations on public services to work together with local communities to make a positive difference on the issues that matter most in local areas.

The legislation means local public sector bodies like councils, NHS boards and Police Scotland must secure the participation of communities through working together in community planning, ensuring services are shaped to meet local needs.

Local government minister Kevin Stewart marked the start of the legislation by visiting Lochee Hub in Dundee. The hub, which opened three months ago, was a response to calls for a community space in the area, and now offers a wide range of health and wellbeing provision, as well as a space for community groups to use.

Mr Stewart said: “When people have greater control of their own future, they are more engaged and are able to tackle barriers to making their communities wealthier and fairer. By putting legislation in place, we are making it clear that consultation is no longer enough and that the participation of communities in decision making is vital.

“When the Community Empowerment Bill was passed last year, it was a momentous step in our drive to decentralise decisions and give people a stronger voice in their communities. My visit to Dundee today has shown the types of meaningful action this can result in – Lochee Hub is a fantastic example of how the community has come together with Dundee City Council, NHS Tayside and voluntary organisations to create a space that people in the area were crying out for. It is yet more proof that public bodies can get better results by working together with communities so that services improve for the people who use them.”