All Things Scotland – New COSLA Chief Executive and Green Day comes to Aberdeen

Image by TheLostScot

Welcome to All Things Scotland – your weekly summary of all key developments across Scottish local government. This week, Green Day came to Aberdeen (well… sort of), the UK Government launched its new net-zero strategy called ‘Green Day‘ on March 30th. Keep reading to find out what else has been happening this week…

Check out the latest updates from LGIU Scotland that you may have missed:

New briefing: Anyone at home? Second homes and holiday lets in the UK

Open to LGIU members only 🔒 

This briefing looks at the impact that large concentrations of second homes or holiday lets have on communities and the tools available to tackle the problem. It will be of interest throughout local government, especially among officers and councillors with responsibility for housing, planning and community issues.

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New. briefing: The role of councils in integrated care systems

Open to LGIU members only 🔒 

While focusing on the English care system, this new briefing from LGIU looks at challenges of new ICSs and the initial evidence of their impact by drawing upon a range of reports on ICSs and highlights the central role of councils in making integration between health and social care effective.

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New article: Understanding empty homes in Scotland

Open to everyone 🟢 

Addressing the 42,865 long-term empty homes in Scotland, our latest guest article from Andy Moseley, Policy and Projects Manager at the Scottish Empty Homes Partnerships, shines a spotlight on the true scale of vacancy in Scotland and how local government can be forefront in tackling this critical issue head-on.

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Who is COSLA's new Chief Executive Jane O’Donnell?

Front and centre in Scottish local government this week was the announcement of a new COSLA Chief Executive, Jane O’Donnell, as outlined in their Tweet here:

Following a rigorous interview process by COSLA’s Presidential Team and Political Group Leaders, the announcement brought with it warm congratulations across the public and third sector.

COSLA President, Councillor Shona Morrison commented:

“Jane’s fresh approach, ambition for the organisation and vision for the future of COSLA stood out during the recruitment process and that is why we went with her. I’m really looking forward to working with her so that together we can unlock even more of COSLA and Local Government’s potential over the coming years.”

Jane O’Donnell’s impressive rise through local government

Starting her local government career with Aberdeen City Council in 1988 as a Development Officer, Jane later joined West Lothian Council and the Improvement Service in the early 2000s. Following this, Jane then spent 10 years at COSLA, starting as Secretariat at the Commission for Strengthening Local Democracy before becoming Policy Manager. Eventually, she became Director of Policy at COSLA before joining the Scottish Government as a Deputy Director in 2021. We’re excited to see what she brings to this new chapter as COSLA’s Chief Executive.

To find out more about the COSLA leadership team, check out our recent interviews: 

COSLA Presidency and its key role

To emphasise the important role of COSLA for Scottish local government, this article from Professor James Mitchell explores the importance of the COSLA leadership team and how COSLA navigates the difficult relationship between local and central government in Scotland.

Housing, planning and infrastructure

Policy briefing – Challenges and opportunities facing the rental sector in 2023 and beyond

Open to LGIU members only 🔒 

This comprehensive review looks at the current status of rented housing in the private rented sector (PRS) and social housing sector and this briefing highlights some of the differences between the approach of the Scottish and UK Governments and the growing differences in their housing policy and approaches.

Council data on housing – New housing stats for Q4 2022 show a 10% rise with 22,905 all-sector new build homes completed in Scotland in the year ending September 2022 – with 840 of those local authority new builds. The Scottish government found:

“Local authority sector new build rates were highest in Aberdeen City, North Ayrshire, Orkney Islands, Midlothian, Highland, East Renfrewshire, South Lanarkshire, and South Ayrshire with all having rates of over 8 homes per 10,000 households.”

Modular housing pilot scrapped in Arbroath – The Courier reports that the creation of up to 75 temporary buildings in a former school under a Scottish Government are now set to be scrapped as the plans do provide value for money.

Tweedbank development in the Scottish Borders – A new report from the Council outlines the aims of 300-400 new homes, 60-bed care facilities and new infrastructure over the 15 year development.

Highland and Islands transport consultation opens – A new consultation seeks the publics views on the draft Regional Transport Strategy which encompasses the Highlands, Moray, Western Isles, Orkney, and most of the Argyll and Bute local authority areas.


The state of local government finance 2023: survey results

To better understand the true picture of council finances in England, LGIU Local Democracy Research Centre surveyed chief executives, directors of finance, and council leaders and cabinet members on topics related to local government finance. LGIU plan to perform a similar survey in Scotland later in 2023.

Funding for islands – £2 million in funding from the Scottish Government was announced at Convention of Highlands and Islands to extend a community hub in South Uist and expand education and social opportunities for local residents.

£250,000 for Scotland Loves Local – With the cards used by 20 Councils, new funding from the Scottish Government aims to enable the cards to operate digitally via devices such as mobile phones to enable repeat and customer loyalty schemes.

£50 million to Councils for play parks – Scottish Government and COSLA agreed the funding for the next three years to enable Councils refurnish children play parks. Find out how much your Council will receive here!

Interest in Falkirk’s facilities – Over 70 groups across the Falkirk area expressed interest in taking on properties currently owned by the Council after Elected Members agreed in principle to close 133 office and community buildings.

£6 million in projects approved by Glasgow – 17 projects in Glasgow amounting to £6 million are now underway following approval by the Council and you read the list of projects here.

Advance your knowledge of Scottish local government!

All Things Scotland is only one of the many ways LGIU keeps the local government community in Scotland up-to-date on all the key policy developments. To never miss a beat, you need access to our exclusive resources and our full Daily News service – one email, every morning with everything you need:

  • breaking news;
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  • events;
  • and, so much more.

Only available to members – find out more about LGIU membership here.

Health, social care and education

Leave no one behind: State of health inequalities in Scotland today

Open to LGIU members only 🔒 

This briefing highlights how the Scottish Government’s approach to public health needs to be more focused and supported with resources locally, covers the ‘implementation gap’ and advocates for more achievable short-term goals to complement the national performance framework.

Cost of Living and crime – Peeblesshire news reported a Scottish Borders Council’s Police, Fire and Rescue and Safer Communities last week saw Chief Inspector confirm the impact of the Cost of Living crisis on crime in the Borders.

Minimum Unit Pricing effect on deaths – A new report from Public Heath Scotland shows there has been a 13% reduction in deaths resulting from alcohol consumption in the most socio-economically deprived areas of Scotland when compared to an estimate of the deaths that would have occurred had the policy not been introduced – equivalent to 150 deaths a year. Check out our Global Local on the topic of addiction here.

Award nomination for Western Isles youth climate action group – Nominated for the National Youth Work Award, the group used their time during the lockdowns to campaign for climate action and continue to raise awareness in their own climate community.

Special meeting for Aberdeen school – Aberdeen City Council reacted to a new critical report from Education Scotland on Northfield Academy in Aberdeen. 

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