Community Empowerment (Scotland) Bill passed by Holyrood

This evening (17 June 2015) the Scottish Parliament passed the Community Empowerment (Scotland) Bill, with 101 votes in favour, 0 against and 15 abstentions. (The Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party abstained.)

This is a piece of legislation I have been following for some time. It will make changes to a number of areas of law, including the right to buy provisions of the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003 and the regulation of allotments. Perhaps more eye-catchingly (at least for a certain demographic of Scottish society) it contains provisions for fans to acquire a stake in a football club in certain circumstances, which were championed by the Scottish Green Party (and previously covered in this blog).

In terms of late (Stage 3) amendments, Mike Russell MSP welcomed a new right of acquisition which will allow communities to acquire land when “the use or management of the land is such that it results in or causes harm, directly or indirectly, to the environmental wellbeing of a relevant community“. He cited the specific example of Castle Toward, in South Cowal, as a possible beneficiary of this provision. There were also amendments to the fitba provisions from Stage 2, with the removal of the prospect of loan or grant funding for fan acquisitions (tweeted about by James Mackenzie, who was heavily involved in the background for the Greens).

What next? Implementation is yet to come, as is often the style with modern legislation. No doubt further analysis will also follow. There will also be further legislation on land reform, with a separate Holyrood bill in the pipeline. With so much to come, I am reticent to write much more in this blog, so I will leave it at that for now (but comments, as always, are welcome).


About basedrones

Bachelor of Laws. Scots lawyer working at the University of Aberdeen. English law qualified. Took far too long to write this bio. Blogs on legal issues, with occasional veering into other purportedly intellectual stuff from time to time. Tweets about legal issues, education, law clinics, fitba, music, rogue cell division and not at all about politics at @MalcolmCombe.
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5 Responses to Community Empowerment (Scotland) Bill passed by Holyrood

  1. Neil King says:

    I struggle with how the current management of Castle Toward by Argyll & Bute Council is harming South Cowal’s environmental wellbeing – it’s economic wellbeing, perhaps, but environmental?

    • basedrones says:

      Here is the relevant extract of the Official Report:

      “The Minister for Local Government and Community Empowerment (Marco Biagi):

      From the national outcomes to participation requests, from football to allotments, I am pleased that we have that shared vision and desire for more empowerment of and participation from communities of all types across Scotland. The focus has been on ensuring that we have legislation that will lift up and free the voices of people across Scotland who want to take part. We want to let them set local agendas in line with their wishes and concerns.

      If I were to sum up the headings of the bill, there would be a series of them. The first would be participation. In the bill, participation requests provide a mechanism for communities to gain a proactive role in how local services are planned and delivered, so that they can take part. Community bodies will be able to use the bill to discuss with service providers how they could better meet their users’ needs, and they will be able to offer volunteers to support a service or even propose to take over the delivery of the service. Participation requests will be a powerful tool that will enable communities to take action on their terms. I want that to spread and take root, so that there is a go-to point for those communities that wish to realise their ambitions. People will be able to highlight where improvements can be made and suggest solutions as to how things can be taken forward and be delivered together.

      Michael Russell (Argyll and Bute) (SNP):

      I thank the minister for allowing that to happen for one particular community in my constituency: the community of south Cowal. The minister was very helpful in ensuring that the relevant amendments were drafted and accepted by the committee and by Parliament, and they will give new hope to a community that desperately wants to purchase Castle Toward but is being prevented from doing that by a recalcitrant and backward-looking local authority. The bill gives real hope, and the community of south Cowal is grateful to him and will be grateful to the Parliament if it passes the bill at decision time.

      Marco Biagi:

      Michael Russell will be very glad to have put that on the record, and I am certainly happy to put on record my support for communities that wish to take up the opportunities to participate that the bill presents.”

      So, on reflection, maybe I should not have homed in on the environmental point with regard to Castle Toward.

  2. neilking says:

    I gather CT has now been sold to a private developer anyway …

  3. Pingback: Land Reform (Scotland) Bill introduced to Holyrood | basedrones

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