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19 April 2017

The Community Party

With council elections just around the corner, party workers are canvassing hard on behalf of their candidates. Since the introduction of the single transferrable vote (STV) we’ve had a system of multi-member wards which seems to have the effect of reducing the significance of party affiliations - at least as experienced at ward level. So what or who are we really voting for? A political party or an individual who we can trust will always put our community’s interests first. A new party standing in West Dunbartonshire aims to offer voters both options with just one vote.


 

By Kirsteen Paterson, The National

They have a membership of 50 and are standing just four candidates.


However, a new party formed to fight for just one council area aims to tackle major issues in health, housing and the economy when Scotland votes in May.


Unique to West Dunbartonshire, the Community Party is thought to be the only group of its kind in the country.


Its principles include removing delegated powers from council officials to “restore democracy” to the area, an expansion of affordable rental properties to tackle the local housing shortage and an end to the use of zero hours contracts.


Ex-Scottish Socialist Party councillor Jim Bollan and former independent politician George Black are leading the four-strong team, which includes veteran peace and social justice campaigner Louise Robertson and 18-year-old Dean Allerdice.


Bollan, who has spent 25 years as a councillor, believes they stand a “good chance” of returning at least two candidates and challenging the larger parties.


West Dunbartonshire Council has changed hands between Labour and the SNP in recent years.


Nicola Sturgeon’s party is expected to take control of many town halls across the country as public support remains high following success in both Scottish and Westminster parliament elections.


However, Bollan said: “I don’t believe that is going to be the case in West Dunbartonshire. People are sick and tired of SNP and Labour telling them what they are going to do, and then failing to do it.


“We won’t be controlled from Edinburgh or Westminster. We will be working with the communities to find local answers to local issues.”


He went on: “While we recognise we’ve got to take cognisance of what is happening nationally, our focus is on local issues.


“We genuinely believe that a lot of the solutions to the problems that constituents face can be found within their communities.


“We are going to make sure we return democracy back to West Dunbartonshire and get local people involved.”


Robertson, who previously worked with West Dunbartonshire Women’s Aid, joined the party in response to low mortality rates for the area’s women.


Now contesting the Lomond ward, much of which includes parts of Loch Lomond & Trossachs National Park, she said: “We have not been well represented by either of the big parties. Neither of them have done us any favours.


“Things are pretty grim and we are losing all sorts of crucial services through cuts. There is a need for local people to start getting involved in politics again.”

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