A community council is a voluntary organisation set up by statute by the local authority and run by local residents to act on behalf of its area. As the most local tier of elected representation, community councils play an important role in local democracy.
Community councils are comprised of people who care about their community and want to make it a better place to live. Community councils must represent all people in the area without prejudice. Therefore they should:
- be non-party political and non-sectarian
- represent a full cross-section of the community and encourage the involvement of people regardless of gender, race, age, disability, nationality or sexual orientation
They must ascertain and express the views of the community to local authorities and other public bodies, and to take action which is in the interests of its community. They can complement the role of the local authority but are not part of local government. They should have a positive working partnership with the local authority - therefore they must be informed on the council’s policies, and keep the council updated on their activities.
To effectively represent their community they must be proactive in consulting andﾠengaging with local residents.
As well as representing the community to the local authority, community councils facilitate a wide range of activities which promote the well-being of their communities. They bring local people together to help make things happen, and many community councils protect and promote the identity of their community. They advise, petition, influence and advocate numerous causes and cases of concern on behalf of local communities. Here are some examples of their work from across the country:
- carry out projects to enhance their community for all types of citizens such as elderly, single mothers, minority groups, youths
- issue community newsletters
- conduct local surveys
- campaign on local issues
- organise community events such as local galas
Community councils are the strongest means of becoming involved with your local area. It will give you a good understanding of the workings of local government and what is going on locally and nationally. All local authorities in Scotland encourage citizens to become a member of their community council.