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COSLA: Local government has to be election priority

With Scotland going to the polls on 6 May and the Scottish Parliament election campaign back underway, the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA) has said that local government must be an election priority and called on political parties to make it one.

COSLA represents all of Scotland’s 32 councils and the councillor-led, cross-party organisation champion councils’ work to secure the resources and powers they need.

They work on councils' behalf to focus on the challenges and opportunities they face and to engage positively with governments and others on policy, funding and legislation.

In total, Scotland’s local authorities spend over £19b a year and employ over 240,000 people, almost 10% of all jobs in the country.

Commenting, COSLA President, Councillor Alison Evison said: “Scottish local government plays a vital role in the lives of people within our communities and this has never been more needed than in this past year.

“We have not heard much about local government in this year’s campaign so far and that is disappointing.

“COSLA has already called on all political parties to acknowledge the rightful role of local government in their manifestos ahead of this year’s election.

“Local government is the anchor in our communities with a committed workforce who are invested in their communities and take pride in supporting people through good times and bad.

“We run the nurseries and schools that educate our young people and help build them into confident young people.

“Care of the elderly and vulnerable within our communities has never been more important and again it is councils who rise to meet this challenge. Our waste collection/disposal service keeps our communities clean and removes potential hazards. If it hadn't continued during the pandemic, we would have all suffered.

“We help individuals and businesses in times of crisis, often when there is no one else to turn to and again this is something that was highlighted during the pandemic.

“It is also important to look at how we help with the health of the nation. It should not be forgotten how much we support the [National] Health Service, be that with gritting roads and pavements or running sport and leisure facilities. We are also responsible for services that help address isolation and mental health.

“In terms of our economic impact, councils are often the biggest single employer in most parts of Scotland, mostly employing people from within their own council area who have local knowledge.

“This means we have employees on the ground, ready, skilled and able to deal with emergency or crisis issues on, if necessary, a street by street basis.

Councils have been instrumental in supporting business throughout this crisis and will be crucial as we look to rebuild an economy fit for the future.

“The new parliament provides the opportunity for parties to put people and communities at the heart of their manifestos through local government and the vital services we deliver.”

At May’s election, 129 Members of the Scottish Parliament (MSPs) will be elected, 73 from constituencies and a further 56 from eight electoral regions respectively.

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