PQs: Community Councils in Scotland

I lodged a series of questions on Community Councils in Scotland. I’m encouraged by the responses, which show Governmental commitment to our most local form of democracy, and hope the information provided is useful for those involved in Community Councils.

Jean Urquhart (Highlands and Islands) (Independent): To ask the Scottish Government what action it is taking to promote participation in community councils.(S4W-19791)

Mr Derek Mackay MSP:

As part of the Scottish Government’s work in collaboration with COSLA to enhance the role of community councils, the Improvement Service has established three Short-Life Working Groups consisting of a number of Community Council Liaison Officers who work for Scotland’s 32 local authorities.

One of these groups is considering ways to promote participation in community councils. The group’s work is at a very early stage but its findings will help inform future work to help promote participation in community councils.

Jean Urquhart (Highlands and Islands) (Independent): To ask the Scottish Government whether it will increase the number of contested community council elections from the current level of 8% and, if so, to what level. (S4W-19792)

Mr Derek Mackay MSP:

Local authorities have statutory oversight of community councils under the Local Authority Government (Scotland) Act 1973 and that includes the responsibility for community council elections. That said, the Scottish Government acknowledges that the number of community council contested elections are low across the country.

As part of the Scottish Government’s work in collaboration with COSLA to enhance the role of community councils, the Improvement Service has established three Short-Life Working Groups consisting of a number of Community Council Liaison Officers who work for Scotland’s 32 local authorities. One of these newly established groups will evaluate the use of alternative voting methods such as evoting to increase the number of community councils contested elections across Scotland. The group’s work is at a very early stage.

Jean Urquhart (Highlands and Islands) (Independent): To ask the Scottish Government what financial support is available to community councils.(S4W-19793)

Mr Derek Mackay MSP:

The Scottish Government does not provide funding to Community Councils as it is for each Local Authority to decide the level of funding for Community Councils in their area. A Scottish Government Survey of Community Councils carried out in October 2012 and published in December 2013 showed that local authorities used several different methodologies to allocate money for administration costs. The most popular (18 local authorities) is to allocate a core grant and then top it up using population/elector/community councillor numbers. The full report is available at http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Resource/0044/00440438.pdf.
In addition local authorities have a Scottish Local Authority External Funding Officer who can advise community groups and community councils about potential external funding streams. Community Councils can also apply for BIG Lottery funding.

Jean Urquhart (Highlands and Islands) (Independent): To ask the Scottish Government what training is available for community councillors. (S4W-19794)

Mr Derek Mackay MSP:

A Scottish Government Survey of Community Councils carried out in October 2012 and published in December 2013 showed that 91% of local authorities provided training opportunities for community councillors, with planning the most common type of training provided. The full report is available at http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Resource/0044/00440438.pdf

As part of the Scottish Government’s work in collaboration with COSLA to enhance the role of community councils, the Improvement Service has established three Short-Life Working Groups consisting of a number of Community Council Liaison Officers who work for Scotland’s 32 local authorities. One of these groups will be evaluating further training and development needs for community councillors and will explore opportunities to share existing training materials and resources. The group’s work is at a very early stage.

Jean Urquhart (Highlands and Islands) (Independent): To ask the Scottish Government what mechanisms are in place to support community councils that have become inactive. (S4W-19795)

Mr Derek Mackay MSP:

Each Local Authority has a Community Council Liaison Officer (CCLO) working directly with active and inactive community councils in their area.

To help Community Councils in their work Local Authorities have access to a Model Scheme of Establishment, a Model Constitution and a Model Standing Orders in addition to a Model Code of Conduct and Good Practice Guidance for Community Councillors. These were developed in 2009 by a group which involved the Scottish Government, COSLA and representatives of community councils and local authorities. The materials can be found on the Scottish Government website.

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