The Scottish Green Party has published its national manifesto ahead of the local authority elections on 4 May. Here are some of the key points from the document, which can be read in full here.
Protecting local services is the main theme of the Green manifesto, which highlights the important role of councils in educating young people, providing care and support services and making neighbourhoods better places to live.
The manifesto commits the Greens to:
- Fight to scrap the "regressive" council tax and replace it with a fairer property-based levy
- Give local communities an increased say on how council money is spent, getting people "actively involved in deciding on local budget priorities"
- Push for a "Living Wage Plus" of £9.20 an hour for carers and a crackdown on zero-hours contracts
- Support development of "rapid response" care teams to provide care quickly in urgent circumstances
- Promote better support for unpaid carers
- Work to protect libraries and improve affordable sports facilities
- Push councils to buy local goods and services where possible and encourage shops and post offices in local high streets instead of chain stores or out-of-town developments
- Work to prevent homelessness and give better advice and access to legal aid to at-risk tenants
The Greens say they believe in education which offers children "much more than qualifications", aiming for a system that "supports their development as adaptable individuals equipped to explore the opportunities and face the challenges that our fast-changing world brings".
Their councillors will argue for:
- A "real voice" for pupils, parents and teachers in how schools are run via education committees
- Keep class sizes down and replace teachers and support staff lost to cuts
- More staff and better support for children with additional support needs, and greater support for "children from marginalised backgrounds" such as refugees, asylum seekers and LGBTI+ young people
- Make free childcare hours more flexible to support parents in shift work or irregular employment
The Greens say being able to travel "broadens our opportunities", saying they want to improve bus services, make walking and cycling more attractive and make streets "safe and healthy for everyone".
They will campaign for:
- Cheaper and more frequent local bus services
- Development of low-carbon buses and electric car charging points
- A broadband action plan for every council within a year of the elections
- Extended 20mph speed limits in residential areas and "low emission zones" in town and city centres
- Prioritise pedestrians as "the most important users of roads and pavements"
The party says its "vision for housing" is for good-quality homes which are affordable to buy, rent and heat, calling for more social housing and better control of rents and management in the private sector.
The manifesto says Green councillors will work to:
- Make rents cheaper and deal with fuel poverty to "tackle rip-off housing costs"
- Support community ownership of buildings, parks, sports facilities "and much more"
- At least 12,000 new social rented homes to be built each year across Scotland
- Explore ways of taking care homes and student housing into social ownership where owners cannot continue to manage them
The Greens want to see a "revitalised local democracy" where "citizens are engaged and active in the important matters affecting their communities".
The manifesto says Green councillors will campaign to:
- Keep power and important decisions locally accountable, opposing "top down and forced centralisation of education and other functions"
- Support more powers for community councils, citizens assemblies, street committees and other community bodies
- Standardise live webcasting of council meetings and make all committee votes available for public scrutiny
- Support community-led projects, development plans and buy-outs, both financially and by sharing experience
- Promote citizen participation in council policies, such as the use of citizen assemblies or juries for decisions on planning or local service provision
Reform of the planning system
The Greens want "a planning system that listens to people", which would be "transparent, accountable and give people power to shape their communities".
The manifesto highlights pledges to:
- Give communities the right of appeal over planning decisions, which is currently only given to developers
- Promote transparency and accountability by making the voting record for all planning committee votes available online and in offices
- Support the development of local energy companies
- Protect wildlife sites and local green spaces from development
Waste and recycling
The party says it is "actively working for a zero-waste Scotland", with the aim of reducing waste, incineration and landfill with less packaging and more recycling.
It has committed to:
- Support a zero-waste policy for all councils by 2025
- Improve bin collection services and extend doorstep recycling, with a "rapid response squad" to deal with overflowing recycling bins
- Introduce "reverse vending machines" for people to return packaging such as plastic bottles