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Festival of Politics
19-23 August 2024

Tuesday, August 20, 2024

What is local government for?

Time: 3:15pm to 4:45pm

In partnership with COSLA

Cosla logo

£7.50 full price and £5 concession

Book tickets for What is local government for? now *

Event description

It is responsible for a vital range of services for people and businesses in a designated area: from social care, schools, housing to licensing and even pest control. Yet amidst rising demand for services and increasing divergence between core funding and needs, local governments are ringing the emergency bell on financial resilience. However, lessons can be learned from local governments in Italy, Japan, Germany, and some English counterparts, who are all looking to more radical and imaginative solutions as well as ensuring the health of local democracy. 

Chair: Ariane Burgess MSP, Convener, Local Government, Housing and Planning Committee

Councillor Prof Steven Heddle is the Vice-President of the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA) and is a visiting professor at the University of the Highlands and Islands. Steven was Orkney Islands Council political and civic leader from 2012-2017 when he received various accolades including The Herald Local Politician of the Year Award and Scottish Public Service Award for Leadership. He served as President of the CPMR Islands Commission; as a board member of NHS Orkney; and as a member of the COSLA Commission for Strengthening Local Democracy.

Professor Donna Hall CBE was appointed as Chair of PossAbilities in 2021. She was CEO of Wigan Council for 8 years and was awarded a CBE in 2009 for innovation in public service. She is now the chair of the innovative national think tank the New Local Government Network and the Chair of Bolton NHS Foundation Trust. She was appointed as an Honorary Professor of Politics at the University of Manchester and is a Non-Executive Adviser to Birmingham City Council. She is also an Integrated Care System Adviser to NHS England.

Adam Lang is a Director at the Carnegie UK Trust, responsible for shaping the organisation's work to promote and improve the wellbeing of people across the UK and Ireland. His previous roles include Head of Nesta Scotland and Head of Policy and Communications at Shelter Scotland. Adam was also member of the SCVO Board; and the Advisory Board for Data Driven Innovation at the University of Edinburgh. He is currently a member of the Advisory Group supporting The Health Foundation's new evidence and research centre for health inequalities in Scotland.

Dr Jonathan Carr-West has been Chief Executive of LGIU (Local Government Information Unit) since 2013. Jonathan is a leading national expert on local government transformation, local democracy and public services. His interests are in participative democracy, and the evolving nature of public services and devolution. Prior to being Chief Executive, Jonathan was Director of Policy at the LGIU where he led on research and consultancy, policy development and piloting, best practice dissemination, learning and development.


Interpreters: Megan Frickleton and Jenny Laird


British Sign Language (BSL) interpretation is available at this event. 

All Scottish Parliament event locations:

  • are accessible by lift or level access, and venues are accessible to wheelchair users
  • welcome guide dogs or other assistance dogs

Some venues are fitted with induction loop facilities.

Please contact us in advance if you have any access requirements.  

Further information on accessibility at the Scottish Parliament.

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