Election17: Principled Councillors – Fabio Villani, Forres

All individual candidates or political groups contesting the forthcoming local council elections in Moray are invited to state their case through the pages of our community news site – contact for submissions is editor@insidemoray.news. Here we have views of Fabio Villani, Greens candidate for Forres.

MORAY COUNCIL, like other Local Authorities across Scotland, is facing unprecedented challenges, trying to meet increasing demands and expectations with ever-diminishing resources.

The customary response of continuing to raise charges and cut services will not be enough to meet those challenges.

At the same time, people are rightly demanding more control over what happens in their lives and in their communities. New laws, like the Community Empowerment Act, are providing more opportunities than ever for people to take power into their own hands.

We need a Council willing to work with others to join the dots between these challenges and opportunities. A Council willing to invest public resources to support community-led activities, and to remove the many barriers stopping people from taking more control over their lives and over the wellbeing of their communities.

The communities of Moray have already demonstrated that we are willing and able to come together to take control of assets and services. In the Forres area alone, community groups are already successfully managing woodlands, gardens, historic buildings and cultural events, as well as services for children, young people and the elderly.

There are no stronger indicators of the health of a community than the extent to which we care for our most vulnerable members and for the common good. If elected, these will be two of the key questions that will guide my decision-making on any issue: what will be the impact on the vulnerable? And what will be the impact on our common good?

Another key question will be – who is best placed to do something about this specific issue? Just because something has usually been done by the Council is not a good reason, on its own, for it to continue to be done by the Council. If there are others better placed to deal with an issue, the Council role should be to engage with them and support them.

In the current economic climate, we are unlikely to see a restructuring of local government and a return to smaller, more locally accountable authorities like the old Town Councils. Our best hope for reinvigorating local democracy and participation is for our existing Councils to move away from the current model of delivering services – best summarised as decide, design and deliver – to a new way of doing things with communities: engage, enable and empower.

Having lived in the Forres area for over 34 years, with a work and volunteering experience spanning the private, public and third (charitable) sectors, I have a good understanding of both the challenges and opportunities facing us.

As an active member of our local community I have demonstrated my own ability to bring people together to set up and develop a range of successful community groups and projects, including a community woodlands trust and a community development trust.

Moray needs principled Councillors who can work with people of all political persuasions for the benefit of all. Councillors with a long term vision, willing and able to provide the leadership and support needed to do things differently, both in the Council Chamber and in the community.

In my current paid role of manager of a small Moray charity I help communities to have a stronger voice in decision-making, and support people from very different backgrounds to work together for the benefit of Moray. As a volunteer, I currently serve on the Board of two Forres community organisations.

In both my paid and voluntary roles I have demonstrated my ability to work with public sector officers at all levels and with Councillors from across the political spectrum.

While we may not always have agreed with each other’s views, we have been able to set aside our differences and work together for the common good. I hope you will allow me to demonstrate that I can take the same collaborative and inclusive approach to the role of Councillor.

Also contesting the Forres ward on May 4 are: George Alexander (Independent), Lorna Creswell (Independent), Claire Feaver (Scottish Conservative and Unionist), Jeff Hamilton (Independent), Terry Monaghan (Independent), Aaron McLean (SNP).