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How to become a community council member   

Introduced through the Local Government (Scotland) Act 1973, community councils are groups of people who give their time to, and have a genuine interest in, their local community. The main role of the community council is to represent the views of the community to the local authority and public bodies. Community councils have an influence in a number of areas such as local planning applications, transport, environment, leisure, conservation and licensing matters. The local authority has a duty to consult community councils on how local services are delivered and other issues affecting their neighbourhoods.

On this page:

What does the role involve?
What will you get out of this?
What will I be expected to give back?
What skills do I need?
How do I get involved?

What does the role involve?

Community councillors are local people elected by local residents to tackle local issues. As a member of your local community council you have the opportunity to:

  • develop community involvement in local government
  • respond to local needs and opportunities
  • provide a strong voice for local communities
  • work in partnership with other sections of local government, voluntary organisations and local businesses

    Community councils consist of elected, ex-officio and delegate or nominated members.

  • Elected members must live in the community council area and be over 18 years old (16 in some areas, check with your local authority to find out what age restrictions apply in your local area). These members have voting rights and usually serve for 3 years on the community council.
  • Ex-officio members do not have voting rights and these positions are available to the constituency MP and MSP and the local councillor.
  • Delegated or nominated members are representatives of local community groups.

    Once a member, there are a number of different positions within your community council. You can either contribute your time as an elected member, or, once elected, you could stand for election as an office bearer. Office bearers are elected from within the membership of the community council.

    The main office bearer positions are:

    Chairperson

    The chairperson is responsible for:
  • representing the community council - this can include speaking to local groups and organisations and attending local authority meetings

  • ensuring that meetings are properly convened - this can include liaising with other office bearers to ensure that members receive agendas and notification of meetings

  • ensuring that meetings are properly conducted - this includes chairing meetings, making sure that the agenda is followed and everyone is given the opportunity to speak

    Secretary

    The Secretary is responsible for:

  • acting as the first point of contact for the community council
  • organising meetings and distributing agendas and other documents
  • recording minutes

    Treasurer

    The Treasurer is responsible for:

  • monitoring budgets
  • managing bank account
  • producing annual accounts

    If you feel that you would like to know more about your community council before standing for election, you could attend a community council meeting. Community councils are required to hold at least 6 public meetings each year. Contact your local authority to find out when these are being held.
     

    What will you get out of this?

    Most local authorities provide training for community councillors to help them effectively carry out their duties. This training can cover a range of areas and is a great development opportunity and a chance to gain new skills. As a member of your community council you will be taking an active role in representing the people in you local area. Community councils across Scotland have had an extremely positive impact on the area they serve. Most recently, one community council in Glasgow succeeded in pressurizing the local authority to turning an unused and unsightly piece of spare ground into a play park. People power does work!

     

    What will I be expected to give back?

    Your time and your commitment. Dependent on how active your community council is, you can expect to give several hours each month to attend meetings. If you are elected as an office bearer you may be expected to become more involved.

     

    What skills do I need?

    You don’t need any specific skills to fulfill this role. However, you must be committed to effectively representing the views and concerns of the community.

     

    How do I get involved?

    Contact your local authority for details of community councils in your area. They should hold a list of contacts and meeting times. Community councils often post notifications of meetings around the area they serve, so check you’re the bulletin board in your local library or GP surgery.

    Useful contacts:

    Association of Scottish Community Councils
    21 Grosvenor Street
    Edinburgh
    EH12 5ED

    tel: 0131 225 4033
    email: info@ascc.org.uk
    web: www.ascc.org.uk

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