Panel discussion

Panel chair, Dr Oliver Escobar, Co-Director, What Works Scotland

Dr Oliver Escobar is Lecturer in Public Policy at the University of Edinburgh, and Co-Director of What Works Scotland, a large research programme to support and improve public services. Oliver’s areas of research, teaching and practice are democracy, politics, policy, participation and collaboration.

He is Trustee of Democratic Audit UK, Beltane Public Engagement Fellow, member of the Scottish Government’s Participatory Budgeting Working Group, and Director of ClimateXChange’s Citizens’ Juries. Oliver has trained and worked with hundreds of public engagement practitioners, and is involved in developing democratic innovations across various policy arenas in Scotland and beyond.

Kevin Stewart MSP, Minister for Local Government and Housing


Kevin Stewart has served in the Scottish Parliament as the member for Aberdeen Central since 2011.

Before his election to the Scottish Parliament, he was previously the Depute Leader of Aberdeen City Council and served as a local councillor for more than eleven years. As a councillor, he chaired the Finance and Resources Committee and the North East of Scotland's Regional Transport Partnership, NESTRANS.

He was the Convenor of the Local Government and Regeneration Committee in the last Parliament and also sat on the Welfare Reform and Justice Sub-Committee on Policing.  He was appointed as Minister for Local Government and Housing in May 2016.

Jan Pringle, Burnfoot Community Futures


Jan Pringle is the Manager of Burnfoot Community Futures (BCF), a busy Community Hub in the Scottish Borders. Jan has been involved with BCF as a volunteer and employee for six years. As well as overseeing the day to day management of the hub Jan co-ordinated BFC’s grassroots Community Choices process is 2016/17 and is building on their success this year with another process.  She is also participating on the Scottish Borders’ mainstream PB process. 

Cllr Graham Houston, Vice President Convention of Scottish Local Authorities

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Graham is an experienced management coach who has worked in a variety of organisations in the private and public sectors. Prior to setting up his own consultancy Graham was the Scottish Director of The Work Foundation (formally The Industrial Society).

Graham was Chairman of the Scottish Qualifications Authority from 2009 until 2017 and is currently a Board Member of the Scottish Police Authority. In past years he has served on the Board of an NHS Hospital Trust, Chaired the Scottish and UK judging panels for The National Training Awards and was a Trustee on the Board of UK Skills whose purpose is to help the UK raise skills standards to world-class levels. He was the Vice Chairman of the BBC Broadcasting Council for Scotland a position he held for five years until his election as a Councillor on Stirling Council in 2007.  Graham was Council Leader from 2008 to 2012 and was re-elected in 2012 and 2017.

He was elected as Vice-President of the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA) in July 2017


  • Building capacity for PB – what’s worked well and what support is needed.
  • Building for Mainstreaming – hitting the 1%
  • Building on the European experience – lessons from Paris and Portugal
  • Building on Community Choices – learning lessons and joining the dots
  • Learning from Digital – DemSoc

You can read more about each workshop here >> 

Afternoon speakers

Nelson Dias, Network of Participatory Municipalities, Portugal


Nelson Dias has been involved in a series of PB projects across Europe and beyond. He has worked with the Government of the Republic of Cape Verde and the United Nations for the implementation of the Participatory Budget in four municipalities; several Portuguese municipalities and the World Bank in Mozambique and México, for the implementation of the PB in several municipalities.

He is also the author of several books on participatory budgets, including "Hope for Democracy - 25 years of Participatory Budgeting Around the World” (2013).

Dr Angela O’Hagan, Glasgow Caledonian University

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Dr. Angela O’Hagan is a Lecturer in Social and Public Policy in the Department of Social Sciences, Media and Journalism in Glasgow Caledonian University. Angela leads modules on human rights, gender, development, and equality across a number of post graduate programmes

She is a member of the Scottish Government Equality Budgets Advisory Group, and is Convenor of the Scottish Women’s Budget Group. She is also a member of the Management Committee of the UK Women’s Budget Group and co-ordinates the European Gender Budgeting Network.  Angela leads on the evaluation of Participatory Budgeting Activity’ funded by the Scottish Government. 


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