This is a report about what has happened to spending on parks and open spaces (“parks”) by Scottish local authorities. To provide context, the report also looks at spending on the wider group of local authority neighbourhood services. Spending is measured both gross and net of income. Gross spending adjusted for inflation (“real” gross spending) is a measure of the volume of service provided. Income includes grants and reimbursements as well as customer and client receipts.
Local Government within Scotland is facing a number of challenges. Resources are not unlimited and yet demand for local council services is ever increasing. Reliance on ever decreasing central funding for local councils means stark choices; cut services or find other ways to meet these on-going challenges. That is why APSE Scotland commissioned this guide for our member local councils to explore the dynamics of commercialisation in local government. By commercialisation we are talking about those activities that local councils can provide at a charge in order to generate additional income. It makes clear that local councils are not at liberty to charge for those services that they ought to provide on a statutory basis, and nor would we want that to be the case. However, local councils in Scotland can add value to services that they already provide and are more than capable of entering into markets; both new and existing, to bring added value to citizens and to local economies.
In 2017, we completed an APSE study of the work and world of the councillor and interconnected worlds of the council officer and the engaged citizen. Having been concerned then with horizontal relations between those who do politics at local level, we were asked to investigate the vertical relationships between local councillors and national politics in Holyrood and Westminster. Recent national and local elections have changed the political landscape in some areas of Scotland, and new political relationships are being forged at national and local levels as well as between them. We have therefore created a supplementary piece of research based on six interviews: two with MSPs, of whom one was a constituency MSP and the other a regional MSP, and four with local councillors. This supplementary paper is therefore intended to provide a further dynamic to the original report and take account of the emerging political landscape in Scotland.
This new research for APSE Scotland focuses on the three worlds of local politics – that of the citizen, the council officer, and the councillor – and is interested in exploring what it takes to do politics in each of these worlds. Each entail different kinds of political work, which is undertaken on different terms and conditions. However, it is clear that these worlds only make sense in relation to one another.
This Toolkit comes out in testing times for the green agenda and the renewables industry across the United Kingdom. Whilst there would appear to be difficulties as a result of national policy direction and the financial circumstances of local authorities, a longer-term perspective would suggest that now is the time for local government to expand its solar aspirations and this document seeks to help local authorities in Scotland to make good strategic and operational decisions that will serve them well in the future.
APSE’s latest piece of research, commissioned by APSE Scotland and produced by a collaborative team from Edinburgh University, Leeds Beckett University and De Montfort University, engages with ongoing debates over the future of elected members and local democracy in Scotland.
The changing demands, requirements and expectations of the office of the councillor, like those of local government, are once again under scrutiny in Scotland. This 2014 study 'The future role of elected members in Scotland' surveys the beliefs and attitudes of elected members across Scotland. The survey generated returns from approximately 10 per cent of the 1222 councillors across the 32 authorities in Scotland. To supplement these returns, the survey was followed by a half-day focus group with elected members.