Former PM Gordon Brown calls for provosts to be directly elected

He said the move could help to 'rekindle' communities across the country.

Former PM Gordon Brown calls for provosts to be directly elected iStock
A new poll indicates that three quarters (75%) of Scots are not confident they could name the leader of their local council.

Devolution ‘cannot stop in Edinburgh’, Gordon Brown has said, as he called for provosts across Scotland to be directly elected.

The suggestion was raised by the former prime minister as a new poll indicates that three quarters (75%) of Scots are not confident they could name the leader of their local council.

Meanwhile, just under half (45%) of the 1098 Scottish residents polled by Opinium said they would support the introduction of directly elected provosts.

In England, there are currently eight ‘metro mayors’ who cover regions made up of local authorities with their main focus on coordinating work between the areas.

The findings come ahead of the Scottish local elections in May.

Brown, who served as prime minister from 2007 until 2010 and founded ‘Our Scottish Future’, suggested that the election of provosts directly could help to “rekindle” communities across the country.

“We need to act to revive our flagging local democracy,” said Brown.

“As we turn our attention in 2022 to Scotland’s local elections in May, our poll shows that this may be time to look afresh at the way we are governed locally.

“And how direct elections for Provosts could rekindle our streets and the communities where we live.”

Brown outlined the impact of local authorities having been “stripped of powers”.

He said: “Scotland led the way with devolution more than twenty years ago, when the Scottish Parliament was created by the last Labour government.

“But since then, our journey to devolve even further downwards has stopped. Indeed, the Scottish Government has put it into reverse, taking a highly centralizing approach.

“Not only have local authorities been drained of the resources they need but also stripped of powers.”

The former prime minister insisted it is time to give Scottish cities and regions the power and control they need.

He added: “Local democracy is back in vogue everywhere round the world and Scotland should be in the vanguard not lagging behind.

“Our poll today shows that Scots are ahead of their government on this.

“Devolution cannot stop in Edinburgh – it is time to give our great Scottish cities and regions the power and control they need too.”