We met with the Chair of Edinburgh Association of Community Councils, David Salton, to find out a bit more about how community councils work, and also what you might have to do if you want to get involved. EACC is the liaison body supporting all of the individual community councils in the city.

At times like this when some of our council services are under threat, it is perhaps easy to see how the community councils which are a voluntary body, might have more influence. We also spoke to Tina Cumming who is a member of Marchmont & Sciennes Community Council about the work they do.

Community Councils (mp3)

Community councils are set up in each area to have a say on local affairs. The hierarchy is that Edinburgh Council decides on most matters which affect the city, below that there are Neighbourhood Partnerships and then there are community councils. Since 1991 there has been a single tier of unitary authorities in Scotland, replacing the old two-tier structure of Regional and District local authority bodies. The council gets all of its powers from a range of statutes, and  community councils were first set up under the Local Government (Scotland) Act 1973 and their existence was continued by legislation passed in 1994. They were set up to be the local voice in the area that they represent, and all community councillors must reside in the area. They are funded by a grant from the City of Edinburgh Council.

There is more information available on the City of Edinburgh Council website.

 

 

 

 

 

6 COMMENTS

  1. The majority of Community Councils are a waste of time as they dont engage with local people. They are generally people who are members of Political parties trying to push forward their own agendas or that of the Council administration.

    They dont engage with local people enough to be able to properly represent the views of local people.

  2. Hi Thomas thanks for your comment – have you ever thought about joining to try and change things? Or do you think there is a better way of this kind of democracy being dealt with?

  3. I have been a Community Councillor and in fact chaired the oldest Community Council in Edinburgh for 7 years. In many communities community groups were supported by professional workers, especially in areas in of regeneration. As soon as the Council cuts of 4 years ago bit all that support was dropped. I am sure if you look at Community Councils not only in Edinburgh but all over the Country they all have poor attendances and they are simply not effective.

    These groups can influence the local Neighbourhood partnership but again if you look at the attendances at these meetings across the City they are probably attended by less that 15 members of the public. So is there any point?

    In my most recent role as a Community Councillor I was expelled for asking too many questions to highlight the role of political activists in Community Activism.

  4. Thomas Brown, I would be interested to hear about your actual experience of
    community councils (CCs)? I suspect it’s limited, or perhaps you’ve just been
    unlucky.

    Like many other community councillors I am a member of a political party, but
    politics definitely does not enter into the CC meetings that I attend. I would be
    raising a point of order right away if anyone else tried to bring politics into a
    meeting.

    We have pointed out the apolitical nature of Community Councils to CEC elected
    members, to MPs and to MSPs. We work in ‘Partnership’ with the CEC, and both the
    Scottish and Westminster governments to improve the lot of the community within
    the Craigmillar boundary. This is very much the remit of the community council.
    How can this be ’pushing an agenda’.

    I come close to agreeing with you that the local community is often not represented
    enough. However the fault for this lies jointly with community councils, the government, both local and national, and local people themselves. The
    Scottish Government could do more to publicise and promote CCs. Many CCs do not
    do enough to improve their performance — their governance or their consultation. But
    unfortunately apathy often rules locally too. What could and should happen is that
    more people aspire to serve their communities in this way and become community
    councillors, making elections necessary in every area. This is the best solution, they
    will be working to improve and strengthen CCs, making them as democratic as any
    representative structure can be. Where does that leave you Thomas Brown? Are you
    in, or out?

    Terry Tweed,

    Craigmillar Community Councillor.

  5. Terry,

    I was the chairperson of the Drylaw and Telford Community Council for seven years, and before that an active member of the CC for about five years. While I was chairperson our CC undertook the biggest consultation that any other CC has undertaken (to my knowledge). We went door to door with questionaires to gather local peoples’ views on a range of issues, many of which were related to the Clean Green and Safe Agenda. As well as going door-to-door, we held open consultation events that people could drop into and give us their view. This allowed us to properly represent the views of local people on a wide range of issues, and this consultation gave us a mandate to do so.

    However, I suspect that not many other CC’s have ever really properly engaged with the wider community.

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