The Scottish Liberal Democrats have published their national manifesto ahead of local authority elections on 4 May. Here are some of the key points from the document, which can be read in full here.
While the manifesto stresses that local elections should be about local issues, it notes that "local policies and voters' decisions are likely to be dominated as never before by national challenges".
Highlighting the "major uncertainties" of Brexit and the "threat" of a second Scottish independence referendum, it commits the Lib Dems to:
- Strengthening Scotland's place in the "family of the United Kingdom", which should be "reformed along federal lines"
- Supporting continued membership of the European Union, with a "further referendum" on the terms of the Brexit deal
- Decentralisation of "as much power as possible" to local councils and communities
Local services and economy
The manifesto says the Lib Dems want "strong councils" which use their powers to the full and are "accessible, accountable and fully engaged with people and communities".
It says the party's councillors will:
- Build capacity in voluntary and community organisations so they can run local services or facilities like community halls and small parks
- Create "shared service hubs" to bring together different services and public and voluntary sector agencies
- Enhance the power of community councils and area committees
- Oppose centralisation and "restore council control" over council tax and business rates
- Make sure councils use "plain English" to explain their plans, to remove barriers to public participation
- Increase the proportion of council funding determined locally
- "Champion the role of councils in local economic development" to work with businesses to "reinvigorate town centres and local communities"
- Support local high streets and convert empty shops for alternative uses such as multi-use hubs for public agencies, employment projects or residential accommodation "where sensible"
The Lib Dems want Scottish education to be "the best in the world for every young person", saying this is "essential" for Scotland's economic future.
The manifesto says the party will:
- Campaign for a 1p increase in income tax rates to raise £500m for education to cut the attainment gap
- Decentralise powers to schools so they can take decisions on the mix of staff and local priorities, while supporting the continued role of local authorities in setting standards and strategy
- Use "informal education" through youth work and clubs to help raise attainment especially for pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds
- Flexible, accessible and affordable full-time early education and childcare
- Campaign for a "full and independent review" of the Scottish government's Named Person legislation
Improved mental health provision is a staple of Lib Dem campaigning, and the manifesto commits the party to working in partnership with health services to:
- Make mental health support quick, effective and locally available to all who need it
- Make sure schools identify young people with mental health problems and help them get early support
- Take seriously the health and wellbeing of carers and support voluntary groups that help people tackle loneliness and isolation
Housing and poverty
The manifesto says councils should take an effective role in tackling poverty, cutting family living costs and building opportunities, highlighting meeting the needs for affordable housing as a particularly important step.
It says Lib Dem councillors will:
- Support the building of thousands more socially rented houses across Scotland and expand the supply of low-cost housing options, particularly for young people
- Develop rural transport and superfast broadband to help overcome rural poverty
- Secure cheaper energy prices by councils acting either as purchasers or generators of energy
- Expand credit unions and advice services and support "fair and affordable banking"
Transport and environment
The Lib Dems say the condition of Scotland's roads and streets is "often lamentable", describing "constant ad hoc road repair works" as an inconvenience and a drag on the economy.
The manifesto says elected councillors will:
- Commit new resources to tackle the "chronically poor condition of local roads" via higher-quality repairs
- Aim to reduce congestion at school gates to make travel to school safer and more child-friendly
- Support transport integration and "smart ticketing" across Scotland, with a priority of helping young people get to college or work
- Back switching to electric or dual-fuel for public and private vehicles
- Push for more effective enforcement of planning and environmental controls