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Citizens' assemblies will improve local democracy, says SNP's Maree Todd


By Alan Hendry

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Maree Todd: 'I want to see communities empowered – I don’t want them to feel distant from decision-making.'
Maree Todd: 'I want to see communities empowered – I don’t want them to feel distant from decision-making.'

SNP candidate Maree Todd is backing citizens' assemblies as a way of improving local democracy and empowering communities.

A citizens’ assembly is defined as a group of people, selected to be representative of the wider population, who are brought together to reach a conclusion on how to tackle a certain issue.

The SNP has used these on a national scale before to help find consensus on issues where people have had sharply divided opinions, such as Brexit.

Ms Todd, the SNP candidate for Caithness, Sutherland and Ross, says the party will use citizens’ assemblies to "consider community issues and develop local solutions" if re-elected.

“The best people to decide the future of our communities are the people who live in them," she said.

“Participative democracy and creating space for genuine public involvement in decision-making is so important.

“There is a clear desire for more locally led decisions across Caithness, Sutherland and Ross. This has been demonstrated to me in recent weeks following various meetings with Thurso, Assynt and Kyle of Sutherland development trusts.

“We have some quite tricky nuanced discussions to have across the constituency on issues like managing second-home ownership, for instance. We need to have conversations around how we balance the needs of communities with tourism and the local economy.

“We know that one size doesn’t fit all, so in conducting local citizens' assemblies we can gauge the will of the community and come up with local solutions to influence and inform decision-making.

“We need to try and navigate a way through the complex issues that are impacting our communities. I want to see communities empowered – I don’t want them to feel distant from decision-making.

“Citizens' assemblies are a great way of improving local democracy and coming up with tailor-made solutions.”


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