DTA Scotland Blog
Posted on: Friday 05th January, 2024
DTAS Debates Launch: Local Democracy
Julia Rolim - DTAS Research and Insights Intern
The end of November marked the launch of our new members-only event series, DTAS Debates. This new event series aims to be a space where DTAS members can come together to discuss the issues affecting development trusts and share grassroots practices developed in response to those issues.
Pauline Smith, DTAS CEO, says:
“I’m delighted that we’re launching DTAS Debates, providing valuable opportunities for dialogue with our members and wider community-led organisations. Together, as a member-led network, I want DTAS Debates to delve into the big topics that are impacting the future of development trusts, and our communities across Scotland. This is a chance to think big, debate issues, voice concerns, share ideas, and ultimately shape the future vision for communities in Scotland, and influence developments within the shifting policy landscape of Scotland.”
The first event took local democracy as its core topic for discussion, including the relevance of the Scottish Government's Democracy Matters 2 policy agenda to development trusts. Our guiding question was: 'What does locally relevant decision-making look like?'. In addition to providing an open space for discussion, this session sought to gather members' views and experiences with Democracy Matters 2 to inform the DTAS consultation response and position on the issue. Despite only lasting 1 hour and a half, the event yielded extensive information, opinions, challenges, and good practice examples.
Our four panellists were Tom Sneddon (Carluke DT), Anna Bliss-Davis (Stronsay DT), Scott Mackay (Midsteeple Quarter), and Willie Sullivan (Electoral Reform Society Scotland). They briefly overviewed their experiences, challenges, and innovative approaches to local democracy in their communities. Then, the floor opened for participants to ask questions, raise issues, and discuss actions in their communities.
Members highlighted common barriers faced when practising local democracy in their communities, with many explicitly citing an uncollaborative relationship between development trusts and local authorities and the perception of development trusts as 'risky' organisations. Funding, especially core funding, was another critical issue discussed, with members stating that DM2 must come with adequate resources, funding, and a statutory basis to empower communities and the challenges that can come with devolved funding. Other core topics covered included:
- Digital democracy.
- Improving consultation processes.
- Involving young people.
- Ensuring development trusts represent their communities.
- Alternative models for local democracy.
- Engaging with community councils and other community bodies.
The next DTAS Debates event will be on the hotly debated issue of Community Benefit Funding from renewable energy installations. CLICK HERE to register and keep an eye out for subsequent announcements!