Community Councils have been around for 42 years and they are statutory bodies representing the most local tier of representation in Scotland. There are 1,200 community councils in Scotland with an estimated 12,000 councillors.
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Read on to find out why Councillor Bill Howatson thinks we should all consider representing our communities.
Community Councils are voluntary organisations, manned by volunteers with busy and varied family lives and they have a special place in society as the voice of communities. Community councils provide an interface with local authorities and they are consulted on planning applications and other matters.
They have a defined place, but they are but one of a range of community groups who do valuable and valued work in their own spheres.
The importance of community councils is reflected in their relationship with Community Planning, in shaping a code of conduct with a simple enforcement and appeals mechanism, and encouraging greater public engagement.
In short, having more contested elections and a highly visible expression of local democracy.
The code of conduct is something all serving and aspiring community councillors should read and pay heed to as it represents the very anchorage on which they operate, and how they manage their affairs.
How they behave, deal with their business, and reflect their communities sends out an important signal to residents.
Attracting sufficient members to run community councils is an on-going challenge that’s why they are seeking new members, individuals with fresh ideas, enthusiasm, and a strong commitment to help make their community better, safer, healthier and fully engaged in the decisions that affect them.
The nomination process and the subsequent elections (when necessary) are important moments for the community council and that is why procedures are laid down to guide individuals who want to take an active part in their community council.
Without putting off volunteers with an overly prescriptive code of conduct, procedures have to be put in place to ensure that community councils operate in an open and transparent way in terms of exercising their public duty; dealing with conflicts; exercising judgement over sensitive matters and fulfilling their role of local trust and confidence in tackling local issues.
Public service is not without its challenges. Difficult and unpopular decisions have to be made from time to time, and demanding situations managed.
But equally playing a part in representing a community is worth it.
Councillor Bill Howatson