Role of a community council
Community Councils are an important part of South Ayrshire's community. They confirm the Government's commitment to an inclusive democracy which involves local people in the decisions made by their local authorities. 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 boundaries. Community Councils will seek to represent and include all sections of their communities, regardless of age, gender, ability, ethnic origin, political or religious beliefs, or sexual orientation. They can complement the role of the local authority but are not part of local government.
Community Councils may also undertake other functions within the terms of their own constitution. It is the responsibility of a Community Council to satisfy South Ayrshire 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.
South Ayrshire Council recognises the voluntary status of Community Councils, and respects the individuality of the communities they represent. The active involvement of Community Councils will bring benefits both to South Ayrshire Council and local communities. Community Councils should support and complement the role of South Ayrshire Elected Members in ensuring that local opinion is taken into account in matters of policy or operation. Community Councillors should develop their relations with South Ayrshire Council into one of partnership.
Support for community councils
Among South Ayrshire Council's responsibilities are the provision of financial and administrative assistance to Community Councils, subject to the various financial and resource constraints placed on South Ayrshire Council. South Ayrshire Council will provide an annual administration grant to Community Councils to meet the costs of the Community Council undertaking its statutory duties. The administration grant should only be used for administrative or secretarial expenses necessarily incurred on behalf of the Community Council.
To become a Community councillor you must qualify to be nominated to stand for election to a specific Community Council. A candidate must:
- be 18 years of age or over (by the date of the close of nomination).
- have his/her name appearing on the current Register of Local Government Electors for the area concerned.
- be resident in the Community Council area or sub area for which he/she is being nominated.
- not be an Elected Member of a local authority (or an Elected Member of any other legislature).
- not be a person who would be disqualified from being nominated in a Local Government Election in terms Subsections 1(B) and (C) of Section 31 of the Local Government (Scotland) Act 1973 as amended.
Once elected, Community Councillors serve for a term of three years. A Community Councillor may resign (in writing) at any time. Community Councillors also become ineligible to continue to be a member if they are no longer resident in the Community Council area or if they do not attend Community Council meetings without a reasonable excuse.
Community Councils usually meet between 8 and 12 times a year. Meetings take place locally on weekday evenings and can vary in length depending on the amount of business to be done. Meetings are generally open to the public. Each Community Council usually appoints four office-bearers, Chairperson, Vice Chairperson, Secretary and Treasurer at the annual general meeting. They hold office for one year, after which they may seek re-election.
Taking part in a Community Council may benefit your local area and you can make a difference. Although a level of commitment is required, this varies within each Community Council and among different Community Councils. Community Councils also have an 'umbrella' organisation which they may join, the Association of South Ayrshire Community Councils which provides an opportunity for an exchange of ideas and helps to develop best practice. South Ayrshire Council is committed to supporting Community Councils and can be contacted at CommunityCouncils@south-ayrshire.gov.uk.