Information for community councillors
This information page has been developed to support community councillors in their day to day role and answer some frequently asked questions.
What are Community Councils?
Community Councils are voluntary bodies which exist within a statutory framework and which have been granted statutory rights of consultation.
The general purpose of a Community Council is to ascertain, co-ordinate and express the wider views of the entire community within its agreed boundaries. They can complement the role of the local authority but are not part of local government.
Community Councils, unlike other community organisations, are included in the consultation process for all planning applications. They have the right to receive copies of applications and will be recognised as competent bodies to make representations regarding applications.
Community Councils are also statutory consultees in terms of section 21 of the Licensing (Scotland) Act 2005 and are consulted on the development of the Licensing Policy Statement and any supplementary Licensing Policy Statement.
It is the responsibility of a Community Council to satisfy Dumfries and Galloway Council that they have taken positive steps to ascertain the views of the wider community within their area, before making representations on any matter, on behalf of the community.
Community councils have a great deal of scope to get involved in a variety of local issues, to develop local projects and activities, on their own or with other groups. Community councils have a wide sphere of responsibility and influence.
All Community Council meetings are open to the public, and residents are encouraged to attend their local Community Council.
Once a community council is inaugurated it must elect office bearers. Each community council must have a Chairperson, Treasurer and Secretary. The office bearers are responsible for the efficient and effective operation of the community council.
This doesn't mean that they must do all the work and can decide to appoint other office bearer roles including a Minute Secretary, Planning and Publicity Officers.
All members of the community council are equally responsible for the community council's decisions and actions and are required at all times to comply with the Scheme for the Establishment of Community Councils in Dumfries and Galloway.
Scheme for the Establishment of Community Councils
Community councils are governed by the Scheme for the Establishment of Community Councils in Dumfries and Galloway (the 'Scheme'). The Scheme sets out how community councils should operate including elections, membership rules and meeting arrangements. The Scheme was originally adopted in 1997 and various amendments have been agreed by Dumfries and Galloway Council since then.
Amended Scheme 2018
The Amended Scheme and its Schedules were passed by resolution of the Dumfries and Galloway Council in terms of Section 53 of the Local Government (Scotland) Act 1973 on 25 September 2018 and came into force on 1 November 2019. With the exception of Schedule 1, and where the maximum number of Community Councillors has been reduced in Schedule 1 of the Amended Scheme, this change does not require to be implemented until the next ordinary elections that are scheduled to take place on 3 October 2019.
Community Council elections
Community Council Ordinary elections are held during the month of October at the same frequency as the Local Government Elections. Community Council Elections for the return of all Community Councils across Dumfries and Galloway will take place on Thursday, 3 October 2019.
Vacancies on Community Councils may arise between Ordinary elections and where the vacancy does not result in the number of Elected Community Councillors falling below the minimum number of permitted Elected Members, then this vacancy can be filled by holding a Casual Vacancy Election or Co-option subject to conditions.
Further information can be obtained via email at Community.Councils@dumgal.gov.uk
How to make a Community Council business enquiry
The Community Council Enquiry Service (CCES) was introduced in 2013. The CCES provides a direct route for dealing with the vast and wide-ranging number of enquiries made by community councils.
The benefits of the CCES include:
- enquiries are directed through a fair and transparent route to the most appropriate person for response
- agreed timescales for a response are in place
- measures are in place to monitor and continuously improve the quality of responses
- the process ensures tighter control of the Council expenditure associated with enquiry handling
Community councils should email their enquiry to CCESmailbox@dumgal.gov.uk.
Public Liability Insurance for Community Councils
Dumfries and Galloway Council provides a 'blanket' public liability insurance scheme for all established community councils in Dumfries and Galloway. The current public liability insurance scheme started on 1 May 2019 and the premium has been paid for 2019/2020.
Insurance papers have been issued by our insurance brokers (Keegan & Pennykid) and a copy can be found below.
Your cover includes public liability, libel and slander, professional indemnity, personal accident, employer's liability and trustee indemnity. In July 2013, the cover was extended to include community resilience activities.
It is for individual community councils to assure themselves over the level of cover that they have, and they must ensure they take out extra insurance cover for other activities not covered by the "blanket" policy such as gala days, switching on Christmas lights and grass-cutting.
The advice to community councils is that if they have any doubt as to the appropriateness of their insurance cover, they may decide to withdraw from the 'blanket' scheme and make arrangements for their own insurance. In this case the community council must contact us at email@example.com
Community councils may approach the current public liability insurance provider, or any other insurance provider, with regard to their other insurance requirements. Contact details for the current insurance provider are:
Catherine McCall, Commercial Insurance, Keegan & Pennykid (Insurance Brokers) Ltd
Direct Dial Tel: 0131 243 9672
Good Practice Guidance for Local Authorities and Community Councils
The Scottish Government's Good Practice Guidance for Community Councils, for use by both local authorities and community councils can be found here.
Should you have any difficulties in downloading this document, please contact Kathleen Glazik at the Scottish Government on 0131 244 0831 to request a paper copy.
Community Council Discretionary Grants
Each community council is eligible to receive from Dumfries and Galloway Council an annual discretionary grant which will take account of the population included in the community council's boundary.
To ensure eligibility, each community council must adhere to the terms of 11.6.2 and 11.6.3 of the Scheme.
The discretionary grant can be used at the discretion of the community council to further their statutory purposes, role and responsibilities only and for no other purpose.
The level of grant funding remains the same as for the financial year 2018/19 and payment of the allowance will be made in accordance with a procedure determined by Dumfries and Galloway Council.
Data Protection Registration
A community council handles personal data therefore each community council is required to adhere to all relevant legislation and to register with the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO).
There is a cost of £40 a year for data protection registration and each community council is responsible for registering with the ICO for data protection. The annual fee should be paid using the community council's discretionary grant.
How do we find out the views of our local communities?
The Scottish Government is committed to people in Scotland having a greater say in how local services are planned and delivered. It's only by listening to the experiences and ideas of the people who live in these communities that we can find solutions which will make a lasting difference.
Local community councils are encouraged to use the National Standards for Community Engagement as a good practice tool which provides a common set of ground rules that should be applied to both sides of the engagement process. One of the standards relates to overcoming any barriers to involvement and, for example, a community council may use its discretionary grant to pay for community councillors to attend appropriate meetings on its behalf.
Scottish Community Councils Website
This national website was created to support and promote Scottish community councils through advice and resources, and real success stories of the impact that community councils can have on their community.
It provides information for anyone interested in community councils as well as both new and experienced community councillors. It provides up to date information on news, events, guidance, and grants that are related to community councils as well as advice on how to be a community councillor.