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.
Covid-19 and Community Resilience Information Bulletins
For the most up to date information including Community Resilience, Funding, Consultation & Engagement, and upcoming training please visit here
A number of Community Councils across Dumfries and Galloway have raised various questions and concerns about the impact that Coronavirus (COVID-19) is already having on the day to day business of a Community Council. Our Council is monitoring the situation closely at all levels of the organisation and we are taking advice from local and national health agencies such as NHS Dumfries and Galloway and from The Scottish Government.
The most recent advice and guidance can be found on NHS Inform at https://www.nhsinform.scot/coronavirus or The Scottish Government website at https://www.gov.scot/coronavirus-covid-19/. In response to the main issues raised so far please find the information below.
Postponement of Community Council Meetings
In light of the current pandemic, our advice is should you decide to postpone meetings, provided you meet the minimum number of times (5 meetings and one AGM) in the financial year then you will remain established. See sections 9.2 and 13.7 of the Scheme for fullest information. Please be reassured that in light of the seriousness of the matters we are facing, the Council will exercise its discretion in relation to this matter to minimize any disruption to Community Councils.
Community Council Insurance for resilience or community volunteering
Dumfries and Galloway Council Public Liability Insurance for Community Councils can be found here. An additional briefing note is currently being prepared and will be loaded onto the Information for Community Councils webpage here later today. In the meantime, if you have queries regarding the cover currently provided as always please contact:
Catherine McCall, Commercial Insurance, Keegan & Pennykid (Insurance Brokers) Ltd
Direct Dial Tel: 0131 243 9672
Community Council Resilience Plans or Community Volunteering
If you would like to discuss what you already have in place or any new community resilience activities please contact your local Ward Officer or CCESMailbox@dumgal.gov.uk
We are also keen to hear of great examples of Community Councils pulling together at this difficult time to help the most vulnerable in your communities via CCESMailbox@dumgal.gov.uk
We will continue to respond to your enquiries and to provide you with any updates as we receive it and again, please do not hesitate to contact us should you have any concerns or questions that you think we can assist with.
Thank you for your support and commitment to your local community.
Please have a look at this video message from Derek Crichton, Director Communities thanking Community Councils for their work.
Hosting a Community Council Remote Meeting
We are aware that a number of Community Councils have taken the decision to meet remotely and are using various ways to ensure that the public are being given access to these remote meetings through the use of virtual platforms. Please find a guide on various methods of hosting virtual meetings that you may find useful whilst appreciating that Community Councils may wish to use other remote means that may not already be listed.
Community Council Survey 2020/2021
As a Council we are always looking for ways to improve the service that we deliver, so we carry out an Annual Survey to ask about the different aspects of our support to you. The results of this survey focus on the work of the Community Planning and Engagement Service and show an increased response rate of 21% to that of the previous survey. This is an excellent performance given the additional demands on Community Councils and on Council staff over the past 18 months due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Public Liability Insurance for Community Councils
Important Advice / Information - updated 27 March 2020
Please note that our insurance providers have confirmed as follows:
- Volunteering and Resilience activities - under the terms of our current policy Community Councillors and Volunteers acting under the direction and supervision of the Community Council are covered for any activities being undertaken by a Community Council to assist those in need of a helping hand at this unprecedented time and would be viewed as coming under the umbrella of resilience activities;
- Use of Private Vehicles - if individuals are using their own vehicles to undertake such activities, the current policy does NOT cover this activity.
However, the following summary was given by Alastair Ross, Assistant Director of Association of British Insurers (ABI) at 25/3/2020. Further information is publicly available on the ABI's Coronavirus Information Hub
'Support those who use their cars to help their communities' - If you are using your own car for voluntary purposes to transport medicines or groceries to support others who are impacted by Covid-19, your cover will not be affected. You do not need to contact your insurer to update your documents or extend your cover.'
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 2021 and the premium has been paid for 2021/2022.
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:
Hazel Strachan, Commercial Insurance, Keegan & Pennykid (Insurance Brokers) Ltd
Tel: 0131 225 6005
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 2020
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 24 September 2020. The terms of the Scheme came into effect on 1 October 2020.
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 last took 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 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.
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 Section 11.6 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 previous financial year and payment of the allowance will be made in accordance with a procedure determined by Dumfries and Galloway Council.
Claims will be considered on receipt of the following:
- Evidence of a minimum of 6 meetings having been held throughout the previous financial year, including an AGM, for the avoidance of doubt an EGM would be in addition to this.
- Satisfactory accounts for the previous financial year which have been certified by an Independent Examiner of Accounts and countersigned by the Chair and Treasurer.
- Annual Monitoring Form (this can be found below).
- BACS Form, if applicable (this can be found below).
Subject to eligibility and criteria having been met, the discretionary grant payment will be made by BACS transfer directly into the Community Council's bank account as soon as possible upon receipt of all the necessary paperwork.
The email address for submitting minutes is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please submit your claim to email@example.com by no later than 31 December 2021.
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.
Strengthening Community Councils
A recently published, detailed report carried out by the Scottish Community Development Centre (SCDC) and What Works Scotland (WWS) on strengthening Community Councils to have a key role taking forward ideas around community empowerment and democratic renewal in Scotland. Some of the recommendations include:-
- Local Authorities, in collaboration with Scottish Government, to put in place resources to improve Community Councils' capacity to meet local needs
- Strengthening/enhancing Community Council powers
- Support is needed with empowerment, training, capacity building, resources, networking and promotion
- Regular point of contact for local authority and other agencies
- Compensation schemes implemented to support community councillors with accessibility, travel, caring responsibilities and loss of earnings
- New measures for Community Council membership to increase diversity
- Scottish Government conduct a publicity campaign to raise awareness of Community Councils
What Happens Next?
The current Local Governance Review conducted by COSLA and the Scottish Government is looking at the role and arrangements for Community Councils. Read more about the research and recommendations.
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.
This page is currently under review, and while Dumfries and Galloway Council makes every effort to maintain the accuracy of the information on this web page, it accepts no responsibility for any loss or damage, which may occur, from use of or reliance on the information.