Latest Public Sector News


Scottish councillors could serve for five years as elections delayed

Scottish councillors elected in May 2017 could exercise a five-year term as a result of plans to extend elections by a year to avoid a clash with Westminster.

Discussing a new Bill to alter the election dates, during its first reading, the Scottish Government’s business minister, Joe FitzPatrick MSP, proposed moving the Parliament’s election from May 2020 to May 2021 to avoid coinciding with Whitehall’s general elections, scheduled for the same day.

“That would mean a five-year term for the next parliamentary session, which would mirror the one-year extension to the current parliamentary session that was set by the fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011,” the minister said.

But since pushing the country’s elections to 2021 would clash with local government, the Bill also proposed moving local government elections to 2022, meaning councillors would serve for a longer term than usual.

FitzPatrick argued that clashes are undesirable for “a number of reasons”, commenting: “For example, we know from our experience in Scotland in 2007 that holding different elections with different voting systems on the same date can lead to unusually high levels of spoiled and rejected ballot papers.

“The issue was rightly of great concern in 2007, and it was why Parliament concluded unanimously, in agreement with the Gould report, that different Scotland-wide elections should not be held on the same date.”

According to the minister, the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities, the Electoral Commission, the Electoral Reform Society, the Society of Local Authority Chief Executives and Senior Managers and other bodies are all fully supportive of changes.

However the power to amend the date for Scottish elections currently sits with Westminster, despite recommendations from the Smith commission that Scotland’s government should retain “all powers in relation to elections” of both the Parliament and local government.

“When enacted, the Scotland Bill will give effect to that recommendation. The timing for when that will happen is still very much the subject of current debate, but we can be pretty sure that it will not happen in time for the Parliament to assume responsibility for elections in Scotland before May of this year,” the commission said.

The Scotland Bill, set to receive Royal Assent within a few months, will also include the devolution of a range of powers, from tax and spending powers to an agreed budget.

This morning, the Independent reported that Scotland secretary David Mundell MP will say, during a speech in Edinburgh, that the handing of control over income tax and welfare will effectively create a “new” Scottish Parliament – dubbed ‘Holyrood 2.0’.

The Bill is currently passing through the Lords and will give Scotland’s government control from April of next year, as well as power to spend VAT revenues and change some aspects of welfare spend.

(Top image c. Danny Lawson/PA Wire)


There are no comments. Why not be the first?

Add your comment

public sector executive tv

more videos >

last word

Prevention: Investing for the future

Prevention: Investing for the future

Rob Whiteman, CEO at the Chartered Institute of Public Finance (CIPFA), discusses the benefits of long-term preventative investment. Rising demand, reducing resource – this has been the r more > more last word articles >

public sector focus

View all News


Peter Kyle MP: It’s time to say thank you this Public Service Day

21/06/2019Peter Kyle MP: It’s time to say thank you this Public Service Day

Taking time to say thank you is one of the hidden pillars of a society. Bei... more >
How community-led initiatives can help save the housing shortage

19/06/2019How community-led initiatives can help save the housing shortage

Tom Chance, director at the National Community Land Trust Network, argues t... more >


Artificial intelligence: the devil is in the data

17/12/2018Artificial intelligence: the devil is in the data

It’s no secret that the public sector and its service providers need ... more >