When it comes to empowering our local communities, the Nationalists are all bark and no bite.

Despite talking up their localism credentials and trumpeting their flagship Community Empowerment Act, the Scottish Government have continued to pull more powers into the centre and have repeatedly undermined our local authorities.

A Freedom of Information request that I made to the Scottish Government revealed that the government had overturned local council decisions for a majority of refused wind farm applications that were appealed by the developer.

This example alone shows the Holyrood administration's clear contempt for our local democracy.

The SNP government's obsession with wind farms at the expense of all other energy sources has fundamentally undermined the role of our councillors.

These are the councillors who have a much better understanding of the wishes of our communities than the Scottish Government.

At present, it would seem that the Scottish Government merely pay lip service to the views of our locally elected representatives.

As many readers will know, however, this example of centralisation is sadly far from unique. All too often do we see cases where the Scottish Government has merged regional public bodies into a national one.

Regional police and fire boards on which local councillors used to sit, for example, are no more and with their abolition has come a significant decrease in community policing and, just as importantly, a reduction in the level of public accountability.

This more distant approach has had real consequences for members of the public. In recent months, we have heard examples of Police Scotland's failings as a result of their lack of local knowledge such as when officers were sent to investigate a crime in Glasgow that had actually occurred in Aberdeen. The public are quite simply losing faith in these new centralised services to carry out the most basic of tasks.

The Nationalists' programme of centralisation is far from over. Their next target is our schools.

To be clear, the Conservatives support their plans to devolve powers down to head teachers over the curriculum, hiring teachers and closing the attainment gap: This is something for which we have argued for some time. We are, however, strongly opposed to their plans to create regional education collaboratives.

This is yet another attempt to undermine our local democracy and remove much of the local authority oversight of our education services.

While we still await many of the specifics, it is clear that these government-appointed boards will significantly reduce the local accountability of our schools by minimising the role of local councillors in the decision-making process. As a former local councillor myself, I find this latest development deeply concerning.

We in the Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party take a different view. We believe in our communities and recognise the positive contribution that individuals and groups within them make to our society.

We also believe that more decisions should be taken locally and as close to these communities as possible.

My colleagues and I are committed to fighting the SNP's centralising agenda and will continue to promote the benefits of localism.