News story posted: 22/11/2018
News story posted: 22/11/2018
On 18th September 2018, the Improvement Service hosted a Scottish Community Councils Hour on Twitter to contribute to the Democracy Matters conversation.
The Democracy Matters conversation is a joint venture between the Scottish Government, COSLA and the community sector and will run until November 2018. The conversation will identify new legal rights for communities which would place them at the heart of decision-making. For more information about Democracy Matters, please visit: https://beta.gov.scot/policies/improving-public-services/local-governance-review/
The event had been advertised via Twitter, emails, newsletters and on www.communitycouncils.scot. The advertising for the event prompted an influx of new followers from community council Twitter accounts and other organisations.
The activity from the evening has been brought together as Wakelet and you can view discussions from Twitter here: http://wke.lt/w/s/HgaqX
Below is a summary of the answers we received through Twitter and email. We will also submit the below as a response to Scottish Government’s Democracy Matters conversation.
Please note that this is a very small sample and is not to be interpreted as the views of all Scottish community councils.
Summary of answers to Question 1: Tell us about your experiences of getting involved in decision-making process that affect your community.
Community councils have used participation requests and some attend area partnership meetings.
Community councils also consult on planning and licencing applications. Some participants of the evening felt that CCs didn't have the influence they would like in relation to large developments, and others expressed frustration that the CC in their area is not always representative of the community's views in planning matters.
Funding for CCs was also highlighted as a barrier for involvement in decision-making, particularly the cost of planning fees and travel expenses to meetings.
Summary of answers to Question 2: Would you like your local community or community of interest to have more control over decisions?
Some participants feel left out of decision making and expressed a lack of influence on development projects locally. One participant highlighted areas that they would like CCs to have more input into but expressed the need for CCs to be sufficiently funded.
An interesting idea was expressed about giving CCs strong influence in matters in their local area but would devolve powers around and 'upwards'.
Summary of answers to Question 3: When thinking about decision-making, ‘local’ could mean a large town, a village, or a neighbourhood. What does ‘local’ mean to you and your community?
Varied definitions of local were explored. Local means different things from different perspectives: what local means to a school might be different to what a company thinks of as local.
Local can mean residents visually seeing grassroots improvements to the environment.
Local is not necessarily geographical but a sense of place and belonging. Community can't be decided from a distant office.
Summary of answers to Question 4: Are there existing forms of local level decision-making which could play a part in exercising new local powers?
The existing forms of local level decision-making can be confusing because there are so many complex structures locally. Participating in these different structures, for example neighbourhood partnerships as well as the community council, takes up a lot of volunteer time.
As boundaries in the different decision-making systems vary, for example the community council boundary is not necessarily the same as the boundary of the neighbourhood partnership or as the council ward, local people may be confused about which community council or neighbourhood partnership they are in and what each structure does.
It was suggested in the evening's discussions that resolving the confusion around these structures would be helpful when moving towards more participation of local people in decision-making.
Summary of answers to Question 5: Are there any new forms of local decision-making that would work well? What kinds of changes might be needed for this to work in practice?
There's aspirations that the review of schemes or governance of community councils at the local authority level may modernise the role. It was highlighted that more funding would be needed to take on local decision-making, and that it's difficult to get people involved in community councils at the moment because they are time consuming to run, have very little power and can be under supported or unsupported.
Further questions were then asked about if local decision-making systems exist anywhere.
Final thoughts from www.communitycouncils.scot
This is the third Scottish Community Councils Twitter Hour we have hosted. Participation on this night was lower than on the previous occasions but discussions on the Democracy Matters conversation were still full of diverse ideas and passion for community councils and local decision-making.
We hope you have found this very small snapshot of community councils' opinions useful and engaging.
To hear more from the Scottish Community Councils Website please follow us on Twitter (@ScottishCCs) or subscribe to our quarterly newsletter: https://improvementservice.us3.list-manage.com/subscribe/post?u=3eb149e6f246e93813465d519&id=fa1b078e21