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CSPP Invited to Judge RSPB 'Politician of the Year' at Nature of Scotland Awards

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Edinburgh, 6th May 2015 (CSPP) - The Centre for Scottish Public Policy is pleased to announce that it will be supporting the Politician of the Year category in the RSPB’s Nature of Scotland Awards 2015.

CSPP Chair, Professor Richard Kerley, will be one of the judges deciding the winner of the category, repeating the role he performed for the 2014 awards.

In response to the invitation to judge this year’s Politician of the Year Award, Professor Kerley said, “I am delighted that the CSPP is again involved in supporting the RSPB. We are particularly pleased to be associated with the 'Environmental Politician of the Year: Nature of Scotland ' award”.

The CSPP Chair also highlighted the importance of recognising the good work that is done in environmental conservation, explaining, “We often find people blaming politicians and governments of not doing things for the environment or for wildlife and habitat. All too often we overlook what committed people can achieve both in terms of material and regulatory change and in taking up a cause that is neglected or overlooked.

I am sure we shall see nominees as effective and thoughtful as we have seen nominees and winners in past years and look forward to seeing who is put forward”.

The RSPB encouraged the wider community to contribute to the awards, stating, “Scotland is renowned worldwide for its beautiful landscapes and abundant wildlife, which we must work hard to sustain and conserve. If you know of an organisation, group or individual who has made a special contribution to protecting Scotland’s natural heritage and wildlife, then we want to hear from you!”

Below is the full information about nominations and the awards from the RSPB, which you can also read on their website.

The CSPP connects with over 5000 people and organisations within and outwith Scotland, but all with an interest in positive change to public policy in Scotland.

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The Nature of Scotland Awards 2015

Nominations are open for the Nature of Scotland Awards 2015. Now in their fourth year, these awards recognise the best of Scottish nature conservation and celebrate innovation, excellence and outstanding achievement.

The deadline for nominations is Friday 12 June.

This year, entries are welcomed across eight categories, including a new category – Nature Tourism Award.

·         Marine Conservation

·         Sustainable Development

·         Politician of the Year

·         Innovation (Sponsored by James Hutton Institute)

·         RSPB Species Champion (Sponsored by Ardmore Whisky)

·         Community Initiative

·         Youth and Education

·         Nature Tourism – NEW!

To make your nomination visit www.rspb.org.uk/natureofscotland where you can download an entry form and find out more about the awards and past winners. The awards are free to enter and applications must be submitted online.

Entrants will find out if they have been shortlisted on 10 September at an evening reception in the Garden Lobby of the Scottish Parliament.

We will invite those who reach the shortlist to the award ceremony on 19 November at the Sheraton Grand Hotel in Edinburgh as our guest, with two complimentary seats. The evening will kick off with a drinks reception, followed by a three course dinner with wine.

Visit our website to read more about the awards, and to see a list of last year’s winners and finalists.

Thanks to all our entrants and winners from last year, the judges were overwhelmed by the volume and high calibre of last year’s nominations!

Scotland is renowned worldwide for its beautiful landscapes and abundant wildlife, which we must work hard to sustain and conserve. If you know of an organisation, group or individual who has made a special contribution to protecting Scotland’s natural heritage and wildlife, then we want to hear from you!

 

   

LocalGov Reports on New Understanding Scottish Places Tool

LocalGov has reported on the new Understanding Scottish Places tool, launched recently by the Centre for Local Economic Strategies (CLES), Carnegie UK Trust, Scotland’s Towns Partnership (STP) and the University of Stirling. The STP is a CSPP sister organisation.

You can read the LocalGov report here. To access the Understanding Scottish Places tool, which offers comprehensive comparative data about towns across Scotland, see its website

 

   

CSPP’s Richard Kerley Gives Parliamentary Talk on Coming Challenges for Local Government

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Edinburgh, 16/4/2015 (CSPP) - Yesterday afternoon the Chair of the Centre for Scottish Public Policy (CSPP), Professor Richard Kerley, spoke to the Scottish Parliament’s Information Centre (SPICe) on the challenges facing Scottish local government over the next few years and the need for the principal of localism to form part of the response to these.

Speaking to parliamentary staff, Professor Kerley outlined what he called “Known Knowns”, “Known Unknowns” and “Unknown Unknowns” [a phrase once famously used by Donal Rumsfeld] to describe the challenges facing local government and public service provision in the coming period.

The “Known Knowns” included continuing financial pressure on local authorities, reductions in staffing and services, integration of health and social care, cross party review of the Council Tax / residential property taxes, and attempts to empower communities via the Community Empowerment Bill.

Professor Kerley highlighted potential issues for changes to local services, such as that the integration of health and social care could create additional centres of authority with distinct interests in addition to  existing health boards and local authorities. He also warned that if proposed enhanced childcare provision only covers the school week then this will not meet the needs of workers on more flexible shift patterns and working hours that do not fit a standard ‘office week’ .

Meanwhile in terms of potential challenges described as “Known Unknowns”, the CSPP chair pointed to the continued ad-hoc removal of local services to more centralised bodies, the need to address community empowerment in light of the limited role played by community councils, and the importance of addressing the imbalance in Council Tax bands and the skewed incentives these create for purchasers.

What would be brave?

In light of these scenarios, Professor Kerley advocated instilling the principal of localism in the running of local affairs. By this he meant that in a mature democracy decisions should be taken locally unless required to be taken centrally, with the exception of critically overriding circumstances.

“We need to think very hard about what levels of decision making are appropriate. What decisions and competences do we give to a geographically defined community?” he said.

A possible outcome of such an approach would be to introduce local referenda and “affirmative voting” on big capital projects and other important local initiatives.

Further measures could be to give local councils discretionary powers over what taxes and charges they levy, remove the need for central government approval over much of local authority decision making, and to look at how to better promote community empowerment.

At the same time, Professor Kerley warned against the dangers of “maxi-minimalism” whereby overly asymmetric and autonomous local authorities can lead to poor management or undesirable practices, such as “Missouri Mess” in the US, with multiple small councils all competing with each other.

The talk was followed by a question and answer session during which those present discussed the points raised further.

Professor Kerley was invited to speak as part of a week of SPICe events looking at the challenges facing Scottish policymaking moving toward 2020.

Such parliamentary presentations are one of many ways the CSPP works with its members and other stakeholders to foster debate, undertake research and promote innovative thinking and solutions for public policymaking in Scotland.

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