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 Short-Life Working Group
As part of ongoing engagement with stakeholders with an interest in strengthening and developing Community Councils across Scotland, the Scottish Government has established a short-life working group to look at ways to build the resilience and capacity of Community Councils, in order to strengthen their role as voices for their communities.
Click here for more details on the working group.
Community Council Website
A recommendation from the Short-Life Working Group included the need for modern methods of communication to encourage and enable the sharing of good practice, support and experience with other community councillors. Other recommendations included the need for Local Authority information and support for Community Councils to be more publicly available, and that Community Councils need to be more inclusive and representative of the communities they live in.
In response to these recommendations and as part of the Scottish Government’s on-going work in collaboration with COSLA, to enhance the role of Scotland’s Community Councils, the Improvement Service has developed a Community Council website. The purpose of the website, which went live in November 2014, is to raise awareness of Community Councils amongst the general public and to provide a national digital source of information for Community Councillors to help them in their work. The website also includes a Community Council Location Finder designed by Edinburgh Napier University which is a map for members of the public to find their nearest Community Council.
Community Council legislation
Community 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.