Leith Links Community Council is situated in north east Edinburgh in an area with diverse population and mixed levels of deprivation. It is also home to two large greenspaces which help define the community.
In 2016 the City of Edinburgh Council had its triennial community council elections. Of the 46 community councils in Edinburgh, only the Leith Links Community Council had a contested election.
Edinburgh City Council provided all the community councils in the local authority with leaflets and posters for the nominations for the elections, and also ran a city-wide campaign to raise awareness about the upcoming elections and encourage people to put themselves forward to become community councillors.
While they appreciated the help and support from the local authority, Leith Links Community Council was keen to do more and to take a hyperlocal approach to seek more candidates to stand as community councillors. Using its own funds, the community council designed, published, and distributed over 6000 leaflets to the local area.
When 17 candidates put themselves forward for 12 places, the community council held an information evening and a meet-and-greet session. It also published a booklet with short biographies of the candidates to help people get to know who they were voting for. Candidates were initially nervous about being part of an election but the meet-and-greet helped them to understand why other people had put themselves forward and allowed them an opportunity to meet members of the public. Some candidates even promoted themselves further through community Facebook groups and by publishing their own leaflets and handing them out door to door.
Through engaging on social media, face-to-face at events and meetings, and by leafleting, Leith Links Community Council was able to raise its profile and encourage people that were new to community councils to join it. Its meet-and-greet session and candidate booklet made the process transparent and welcoming and it achieved its goal of having a contested election for its community council.
After this success, Leith Links Community Council is ready to work hard for its community with a full community council, but is already looking forward towards the next election in a few years’ time with the plan of encouraging even more people to stand, vote and participate.