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17/06/15 20:18

Green light for Community Empowerment Bill

New legislation will encourage decision making at community level.

A new law which will give communities more powers to take on land and buildings and to have a say on how their services are delivered, has been approved by the Scottish Parliament.

Legislation which was passed today will give communities more rights to take over land in both urban and rural areas – this could include transforming waste ground into community gardens or bringing empty shops back into use.

The law will also mean local authorities and public bodies will have a statutory duty to weigh up the benefits of transferring their land and buildings to communities. Instead of waiting to be offered a building, service or piece of land groups can put forward their case for why a community centre would be better run by the community itself.

The Community Empowerment Bill will provide stronger protection for allotments and encourage councils to create new allotments in response to demand.

It will give community groups the opportunity to be involved in discussions on service with health boards, police or local authorities at the earliest stage while Ministers will also have powers to involve people and communities in funding decisions, like participatory budgeting.

During the debate it was also confirmed the Scottish Government will shortly launch a consultation on what future legislation should be developed to enhance the rights of football supporters. This is an important development and will see football supporters having the opportunity for a greater role in the decision making, running and potentially the ownership of their football clubs.

Speaking after the vote to approve the bill, Community Empowerment Bill Marco Biagi said:

“This bill is a momentous step in our drive to decentralise decisions and give people a stronger voice in their communities.

“By giving people more powers to take over land, buildings and services, communities that may have been excluded in the past, can identify the best ways to improve their area and take forward regeneration on their own terms.

“It will now be easier for buildings and land in both urban and rural areas that may have been underused to be transformed into community gardens and facilities.

“Communities now have a framework to take action in areas that are important to them, they will be able to improve services like education or childcare.

“I look forward to hearing ideas from communities across Scotland on how they will use this Bill to achieve plans they have to help the areas in which they live. When people have greater control of their own future, they are more engaged and are able to tackle barriers to making their communities wealthier and fairer.”

Notes to editors

More information on the Community Empowerment (Scotland) Bill is available at: http://www.gov.scot/Topics/People/engage