Lesley Riddoch: How not to run a local democracy


A community buyout thwarted by intransigence is sadly symptomatic of a broken system, writes Lesley Riddoch.

WHAT does Lord Ashcroft’s poll mean for Scotland’s local councils? A quarter are Labour-run and all but one is located in the west of Scotland – a former heartland that seems intent on snubbing the People’s Party on 7 May. Of course local elections aren’t general elections, there are two long years before those polls and turnout in 2012 was a miserable 38 per cent.

You could say no-one cares about local democracy. Or you could look at the row over Castle Toward in Argyll and Bute and say “local” is so wrong-sized in Scotland that something has to change.

Residents in South Cowal have seen Dunoon falter since its doon the watter heydays and watched the American navy come and go. They’ve seen small businesses close, school rolls fall and the once-famous Queen’s Hall and Town Hall both fall into disrepair.

But then a rare opportunity arose. Last year a former primary teacher, local garage owner, charity director and wildlife artist formed South Cowal Community Development Company (SCCDC) to buy Castle Toward and help regenerate the whole area.

Click here to read Lesley Riddoch’s full column on The Scotsman website.

In addition, CommonSpace has this week launched special editorial coverage of the #SaveCastleToward campaign. Click here to read more.

Picture courtesy of GPS.