Our Remit


The Commission on Strengthening Local Democracy in Scotland:  Terms of Reference

The overall purpose of the Commission was to:

“Identify a route map to deliver the full benefits of a shift in power towards local democracy for people in Scotland”

It will work to address three objectives:

1)     Investigate a local approach to services and accountability that will improve outcomes in Scotland’s communities

2)     Consider the current landscape of democracy in Scotland and how this could be strengthened and enriched to benefit local people most

3)     Make recommendations that set a course for putting stronger local democracy at the heart of Scotland’s constitutional future



The Commission will carry out its remit in two phases.


Phase 1: Why local democracy is important and what it can achieve

Key output: A clear statement of the benefit to communities of local delivery and democracy

Key questions to consider:

–     Why should we do things locally in Scotland, and what benefit does this deliver?

–     What can Scotland learn from other countries about their approach to local democracy?

–     What do people in Scotland have to say about local democracy?

–     What would better protected, empowered and supported local democracy look like in Scotland?


Phase 2: A route map to delivering stronger  local democracy in Scotland

Key output:  An assessment of the key building blocks for change

Key questions to consider:

–  What are the building blocks we should focus on as part of Scotland’s constitutional future?

–  Who needs to take action to deliver positive change after the Referendum and what should they do?



The Commission is expected to make interim reports throughout these phases and deliver a report to the COSLA Convention in Spring 2014.  It is expected that the conclusions will include:

  1. setting out why local approaches should be pursued and the benefits they derive
  2. identifying the long term characteristics that should underpin better local democracy
  3. establishing the building blocks or barriers to address, including:
    •   improving the constitutional / statutory position of Scottish local government
    •   a funding process that improves democratic control and accountability locally
    •   ways of ensuring that there is a joint approach to policy making in Scotland
Guiding Principles

It is expected that all members of the Commission will be:

  • AMBITIOUS: take a long term view and not be restricted by the current landscape of democracy in Scotland
  • OPEN: enable all views to be heard through evidence gathering and interaction, public reporting, and political debate
  • INCLUSIVE: reflect a broad range of interests and views from across communities, local and national government,  and wider civic Scotland
  • QUESTIONING: provide a forum for debate but with a common purpose of improving local democracy and accountability in Scotland
  • PRACTICAL: positively respond to challenges and shape action in pursuit of local  government’s vision for stronger local democracy
  • EVIDENCE BASED: support their findings, including by looking at relevant evidence from home and abroad and commissioning research where appropriate