The Community Council
What are Community Councils?
Community Councils are the most local tier of statutory representation in Scotland. They bridge the gap between local authorities and communities, and help to make public bodies aware of the opinions and needs of the communities they represent.
Their primary purpose is to ascertain and express the views of the community to the local authority and other public bodies. Many Community Councils also involve themselves in a wide range of other activities including fundraising, organising community events, undertaking environmental and educational projects and much more.
There are currently around 1200 Community Councils in Scotland, all of which are composed of elected volunteers from the community.
Community Council legislationCommunity Councils were created by the Local Government (Scotland) Act 1973. The Act required local authorities to introduce Community Council schemes for their area outlining various arrangements including elections, meetings, boundaries, and finance. Local authorities have statutory oversight of Community Councils and, in consultation with their Community Councils, the freedom to tailor schemes to the particular circumstances of their area.
Local authorities and other bodies consult with Community Councils on issues affecting the community. These issues depend to a large extent on what is important to each community, however, local authorities are required to consult Community Councils on planning applications and many choose to involve them in the Community Planning process.
Model Scheme of Establishment of Community Councils, Model Code of Conduct for Community Councillors and Good Practice Guidance for Local Authorities and Community Councils
These documents provide model frameworks and guidance on good practice for both local authorities and Community Councils and are available in word and pdf formats in the Relevant Publications section.
Aberdeenshire Council provide a model for Community Councils which they are expected to adopt, but allow for some approved local variances. They provide the information below:
Community councils represent the views – and take action to promote the interests of – the community. Community councils can carry out a variety of roles, including:
- help with environmental projects
- organising local galas
- printing and distributing local newsletters
- representing Community Councils on other organisations
- providing lunch clubs for the elderly
- campaigning on local issues
- conducting local surveys
- organising public meetings on major development proposals or the Local Plan
- carrying out Planning for Real exercises © Neighbourhood Initiative
- Community Council Handbook
- Code of Practice for Exchange of Information
- Establishment of Community Councils Scheme
As part of the Scottish Government’s work in collaboration with COSLA to enhance the role of Community Councils, the Improvement Service has developed a Community Council website: http://www.communitycouncils.org.uk/
The purpose of the website is to:
- Raise awareness of Community Councils amongst the general public.
- Provide information on the role of a Community Councillor to potential candidates.
- Support new Community Councils/Councillors to access information to help in their work.
- Support Community Councils with good practice case studies.
This is the first time a national website has been developed in Scotland with a focus on Community Councils. It has been developed with feedback from Community Council Liaison Officers and Community Councillors.
The website contains sections specific to Community Councils such as the rights and responsibilities involved. It also contains plenty information that is useful to community groups more generally, such as information on community engagement, governance, using social media and links to further support.