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Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Ideas 41-49

41. Condition schools funding on raising educational attainment.

All public funding should have an element of performance-related payment in order to ensure that each and every public pound is being spent to maximum effect. With schools, it would be relatively straight-forward to devise assessment criteria which determine how good a school is doing to meet agreed objectives, whether that is academic performance, community involvement or sporting/artistic achievement.

Such a performance management system would encourage a results-driven culture (not simply exam results) that ensures that young people coming thru the school system are being given the tools required to make their next steps in the world.

42. Empower voters by giving them the ability to recall MSPs who have committed serious wrongdoing

The current Holyrood election campaign is again revealing the growing gap between those in the “Holyrood bubble” and the electorate. We need to seriously look at ways to reinvigorate our democracy and to make it relevant and accessible for all. Giving voter’s the ability to recall is no silver bullet but it is part of the narrative to refresh our apathetic democracy.

43. Appoint local electoral commissions to encourage turnout and locate polling stations in major shopping centres.

44. Football clubs to fund the entire policing operation for their games.

After the farce of the Old Firm this isn't an unreasonable ask.

45. Establish one year sabbaticals for talented yet tired teachers.

46. Roll out the lend a hand initiative to kick-start the mortgage market and boost the construction industry

I’m one of thousands of first time buyers who cannot afford to get a mortgage. It’s not that we don’t want to, we do, but we can’t afford the minimum 10% deposit the banks require. And so many first time buyers get stuck in a vicious circle where they cannot save for a deposit because their forking out a minimum of £500 per month for inflated rent rates.

This is not to mention the knock on effects this has on the mortgage market itself, the local/national economy and the construction industry.

Thankfully, the UK Coalition Government have responded to the crisis with their “local lend a hand” imitative, a pilot involving 15 local councils. Through a pre-existing Lloyds TSB scheme, local authorities will provide a cash-backed indemnity of 20% leaving the buyer to put down a deposit of 5%. Thus far only one Scottish local authority (East Lothian) and one bank is participating in the scheme.

It’s a step in the right direction, but it isn’t enough. If the pilot is successful after 6 months we need to roll this programme out nationally. Undeniably, it is a fair and cost effective way to kick-start the ailing mortgage market.

Yet to make it sustainable local councils in Scotland have to be able to raise revenue- they cannot continue to allocate further spend when the budget isn’t there. Local Government in Scotland is severely restricted on how they can raise additional revenue given their reliance on Central Government funding. But they can raise council tax. The big question is this: will the next Scottish Government allow councils the flexibility and autonomy to make this decision on their own terms?

47. Create a national planning policy that enables pharmacies to be constructed on NHS sites

48. Advocacy Groups to be given formal role as parliamentary advisers

The Stop Climate Chaos Campaign played a pivotal role in the development of the landmark Cliamte Change Act. Should they, or other advocacy groups that clearly improve the quality of legislation, be given a formal role as parliamentary advisers?

49. Scrap the Waverley line and extend the Trams to Gorebridge with Borders Transport Interchange.

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