Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act 2015, Part 2 Community Planning, Consultation on draft guidance and regulation, Analysis of responses

An analysis of the responses received to our consultation on draft guidance and regulation.

Criterion for Locality Planning Regulation

What we asked

Q6: We propose that the draft regulation for locality planning should set one criterion only, which is a maximum population permissible for a locality. Do you agree? What are your reasons?


101. Section 9 of the Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act 2015, states that each CPP "must divide the area of the local authority into smaller areas" and that the smaller areas must be of such type or description as specified by regulation. It continues that "the community planning partnership must identify each locality in which persons residing there experience significantly poorer outcomes… than those experienced by persons residing in other localities within the area of the local authority, or those experienced generally by persons residing in Scotland."

102. Section 10 of the Act states that "each CPP must prepare and publish a locality plan for each locality identified by virtue of section 9". The Act goes on to provide detail of what a locality plan sets out and who the CPP must consult with and take account of in preparing and publishing a locality plan. The Act also includes provisions about the locality planning review in Section 11 and progress report in Section 12.

103. A CPP may choose to develop locality plans for all subdivided areas (localities) within the area (Section 10 (2) refers). The 2015 Act ensures that each Community Planning Partnership must have at least one locality and that it should be smaller than the area of the CPP as a whole.

104. The draft Guidance in the section on identifying localities (page 40-41) explains the purpose of and reasons for locality planning, that it "enables CPPs and their partners to tackle inequalities …. in well targeted and effective ways" whilst "it is often easiest for community bodies to participate …… where it can have most relevance to their lives".

105. The guidance also states that "the CPP should use its understanding of local needs, circumstances and opportunities to identify those localities for which it should undertake locality planning". It goes on "While the nature of inequality may vary from one CPP area to another, there is in every area some variation in the outcomes experienced by different communities." Paragraph 151 of the draft Guidance also noted that "Locality planning alone is unlikely to be enough to fulfil the duty on CPPs ….to act with a view to reducing inequalities of outcome which result from socio-economic disadvantage"

106. This consultation question proposed a single criterion based on population maximum for determining a locality plan.

Overall views

107. 57 respondents replied to the question, that the draft regulation for locality planning should set one criterion only, which is a maximum population permissible, 30 indicated yes and 27 indicated no. 35 respondents did not clearly respond to the yes/no element but 17 of this number provided comments. This relatively large number of respondents who did not answer yes or no but included their views may indicate that yes/no decision making on this question was complex. Overall there was a great deal of lengthy commentary provided by respondents.


108. There were wide ranging views expressed in relation to this question with themes emerging around issues such as differing local determination of criteria, existing structures, community identity, communities of interest and urban and rural views.

109. Those who indicated yes indicated that a single criterion would be helpful for developing a more flexible local response. Whilst some expressed their preference for no criteria and local determination of the appropriate criteria. Respondents across categories generally welcomed locality planning as an approach that supported efforts to address the needs and aspirations of identified communities rather than the whole CPP area population.

110. A potential tension identified was the balance between a locality being large enough to ensure effective partnership working and small enough to ensure effective community engagement. Hence, a locality of 30,000 may not be an appropriate size for ensuring impact from targeted resources; however, partners may have limited operational capacity to engage with a locality with a smaller population size.

111. A small number of respondents in favour of a maximum population criterion also indicated that if locality is too large then there was increased likelihood of non-participation and less of a connection between people in that community.

Locally determined

112. A number of those respondents who replied no considered that population was not a helpful way to develop criteria for localities. One local authority respondent summarised these replies when stating that "localities should fit to communities not populations". Another that it should be a local decision based on research and local understanding. Generally respondents who indicated no considered that localities should represent a sense of place rather than arbitrary boundaries set by population. Some argued that local community identity is not a one size fits all artificial number. An NHS respondent captured this view by stating that it was "unhelpful to prescribe where locality lines should be drawn on basis of population".

113. Many of the respondents who did not favour a single criterion and some of those who did not directly answer the question from across the range of disciplines disagreed with a nationally set population criteria.

114. This included those CPPs which have already identified 'localities' which exceed the maximum population number proposed in the criterion. They considered that the proposed regulation should not include a population criterion.

115. A CPP contended that they have "a good understanding of their local areas and should be allowed to identify what the most appropriate boundaries are." Other respondents from across categories replied by indicating that the criterion, a population maximum of 30,000, should not be artificially set. Respondents from CPPs, local authorities and Third Sector commented that locality planning should be based on sound evidence and the participation of communities. They contend that the CPP should be responsible for setting out and justifying the basis for their decision making. This local determination was supported by a Third Sector body which simply stated that "evidencing the rationale for localities is more important than population".

116. A Local Authority supported this view when articulating that "Localities have little to do with population size and therefore, setting this as a criteria [on] is likely to misdirect". They continued that "guidance should go no further than highlighting the importance of addressing disadvantage and inequality".

Existing structures

117. Respondents from across the range indicated benefits to localities mirroring existing sensible structures either already adopted in a CPP context or be aligned to existing planning structures for other policy areas and planning cycles. Some CPPs and local authority respondents welcomed the flexibility this single criterion provided, with one stating that it allowed them to "build on existing identified 'localities', rather than create artificial boundaries".

118. These benefits included avoiding duplication and efficient use of resources for all partners, including communities. This may also reflect the challenge recognised by some respondents of balancing an approach to locality planning which is large enough for effective collaborative working whilst small enough to support effective community engagement.

119. Out-with the increased efficiency from aligning existing structures a CPP also noted that "there would be difficulties for both service providers and communities if there were to be a plethora of different locality plans, using different boundaries, covering the same area which may result in duplication and confusion."

Community identity

120. Not all respondents considered population criteria as a suitable basis for identifying localities. A small number indicated that a sense of local identity was what was important regardless of the population size.

121. A Third Sector respondent summarised this view when commenting that "Localities should also be defined by taking into account to where communities feel that they naturally exist, and share a distinct sense of identity and character"

122. This was partially supported by an NHS respondent who considered that "direction that 1) reflects wherever possible community identified boundaries 2) enables neighbourhood/community partnership working practices 3) strengthens asset based approaches and 4) meets a specified socio-economic deprivation characteristic, is more important than the number of people. " for the development of localities.

123. A local authority noted that they had an administrative locality area in excess of 30,000 population but that their plans for this locality will focus in on particular areas with the aim of tackling inequalities more locally. They expect that in practice, some very small communities would have a locality plan.

124. The role of communities in establishing localities was conveyed best by a public body which noted that "Communities themselves must be instrumental in identifying a locality that works for them. Localities should not be decided on using traditional boundary markers such as wards alone. Localities should be based on natural neighbourhoods wherever possible."

Urban or rural

125. Some respondents considered that maximum population as a criterion may suit an urban rather than rural setting, particularly for those parts of the country where the maximum exceeded either the total population or the total population found in the largest concentrations in predominantly rural areas. Rural and island respondents were generally less concerned about the maximum, which led one island respondent to propose that they should have a single locality plan for the whole CPP area.

Communities of interest

126. A CPP suggested that a community of interest or particular groups identified at risk of disadvantage or significant inequality should be added to the criteria in the regulation. Whilst another CPP noted that in rural areas, localities should focus more on the concept of communities of interest than of communities of place.


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