Arm’s-length external organisations (ALEOs) will be overhauled in Glasgow if Labour loses the upcoming local authority election, The National can reveal.
Councillor Susan Aitken, the woman who could be the next leader of Glasgow City Council, says the organisations must be placed under public scrutiny in a process of “democratic renewal” aimed at winning back public trust.
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Labour has retained control of the administration for almost 40 years.
Aitken says this period has seen public faith in the council wane and, if successful, her team will “let the light in”. She told The National: “It is all about rebuilding trust with the people of Glasgow. Transparency is the watchword – no more deals behind closed doors.”
The SNP, which will field almost 60 candidates across the city, will unveil its manifesto next week.
Glasgow City Council currently has 10 ALEOs, including culture and leisure provider Glasgow Life, Cordia, which caters for schools and provides homecare, and construction outfit City Building.
According to a 2015 report by the Scottish Charity Regulator (OSCR), their charitable income runs to nine figures and is more than four times higher than that of second-placed Edinburgh.
Councils across the country use the bodies but critics complain of a lack of accountability. And while the Scottish Government expanded the Freedom of Information Act to cover the bodies in 2013, a study two years later found some refusing to provide data, taking months to respond or claiming the law does not apply to them. If elected, Aitken will undertake a full review of those set up by previous administrations.
She said: “We will keep open the option of reforming or abolishing ALEOs that are not contributing to the outcomes we want to see.
“The ones that remain need considerable stronger levels of democratic scrutiny.”
The move would form part of a reorganisation of service provision as Aitken attempts to “empower communities” to drive and inform coverage in their areas in a move that could see the third sector used.
Aitken, who represents the Langside ward, said: “The paternalistic attitude of councils is outdated.
“Budgets are not going to improve any time soon. We need to think about how we can best provide the services people want and need. That means speaking to and working with others, including the third sector.”
She went on: “We want everything that we do to be focused around outcomes for people.
“We want to lift people out of poverty, to have good jobs in their communities, to tackle health inequalities.
“These are long-term projects and we are not going to do them in a five-year council term. However, we do want to ensure that every decision we take will help us get there.
“We are not trying to get power for the sake of it, we are trying to replace the Labour Party because we think there is a better way forward.
“They don’t have the imagination, the energy, the political will to make these changes.”