about Community Councils

Community Councils were introduced through the Local Government (Scotland) Act 1973 with the first Community Councils in Edinburgh established in 1980.  The Act defined the purpose of a community council as:

"to ascertain, co-ordinate and express to the Local Authorities for its area and to public authorities the views of the community which it represents, in relation to matters for which those authorities are responsible."

Local councils are required by law to set up a scheme to allow the establishment of Community Councils.  Ultimately, it is entirely a matter for any community to decide if they want a Community Council in their area.  Some neighbourhoods feel they are already well represented by tenents and residents associations or other groups.  However, should people living in an area decide to form a community council, all that is required is that at least 20 people who are on the electoral roll for that area sign a petition requesting that the Council takes the necessary steps to organise an election to establish a Community Council.

There are currently about 1200 Community Councils in Scotland covering populations ranging from 35 to 34,000.  The boundaries of their communities, the number of Community Council  representatives, the populations they represent and their election procedures are determined by each parent local authority throuth the Scheme for Community Councils.

A Community Council can act as a campaigning body in raising awareness of specific local issues.  They can be particularly useful in co-ordinating smaller, local organisations to ensure that resources aren't being wasted and that several groups aren't all trying to do the same job.

Community Councils play an important part in allowing local residents to speak out on local issues and conveying their views to a range of organisations.

Community Councils are formed by groups of local volunteers and set up to promote the interests of their community.  Community Councils meet, usually once a month, and their primary role is representative, consulting the local community and making the views of local people known to the local authority and other organisations. The local authority, in turn, has a duty to consult Community Councils on the delivery of local services and other issues affecting their neighbourhoods. Under the provisions of Part 2 of the Local Government in Scotland Act 2003, Community Councils have a statutory right to be consulted on local planning issues and the City of Edinburgh Council's Planning Division sends out a weekly list of all planning applications submitted.

Community Councils also have an influence in areas such as transport, environment, leisure, conservation and licensing matters. While there is no statutory requirement for local authorities to consult community councils on licensing matters, community councils are considered as 'competent objectors' who may appoint representatives to attend meetings of the Licensing Board and speak in support of objections.

The Local Government (Scotland) Act 1973 has allowed Community Councils to get involved in a wide variety of issues. A recent survey by the Association of Scottish Community Councils identified over 1,000 different activities which community councils have undertaken. These included road improvements, youth projects, environmental initiatives, upgrading of amenities and community initiatives. In addition to this, there are any number of activities which they can become involved in which might benefit their area, either working ontheir own or in partnership with other agencies.

Further Information

The following links provide some background information:

Local Government in Scotland Act 2003
Association of Scottish Community Councils

Edinburgh University Report on Community Councils (March 2007) (473kB) (link opens in a new browser window)

Date of next meeting: 25 June 2018 at 6.00 pm
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