Community Councils were set up with Local Government re-organisation in 1973. Their general purpose is defined in the Local Government (Scotland) Act 1973 and Section 22 of the Local Government (Scotland) Act 1994 as being:
“to ascertain, co-ordinate and express to the local authority for its area and to public authorities the views of the community which it represents, in relation to matters for which those authorities are responsible and to take such action in the interests of that community as appears to it to be expedient and practicable”.
One of the greatest challenges of the Cults, Bieldside and Milltimber Community Council is establishing the views of the community, which has a population greater than 12000. The Community Council employs several means to share information with the community and to provide the opportunity for public feedback and comment. These are:
- Community Council website
- Community Council Facebook page
- Quarterly Community magazine ‘MBC News’
- Ten meetings open to the public during the year
- Posting of meeting agendas and minutes at the Cults library
- Occasional use of the Next Door website to seek input from local residents
- In addition, the contact details of the Community Council Officers are made public.
Consultation – capturing a representative set of community views. The Community Council relies on the public to come forward with views on matters of importance to them, either by raising them at the monthly meetings or by contacting the Community Council directly using telephone, email or postal mail. We occasionally use simple surveys to gather views. Is there a better way to capture a wider set of opinions that does not require significant time and effort?
- The Community Council website and Facebook page enable the quick sharing of information with local residents and those residents can respond using either email or Facebook comments/messages. These tools do require a public interest and ability to use them to make them useful. As of October 2017 there were over 600 Likes for our Facebook page; visits to the website are unknown.
- The MBC News magazine is issued quarterly (Feb, May, Aug, Nov) to 4200 homes and it provides a useful means of providing news on things that have happened and information on longer wavelength future matters.
3 The Community Council website provides information on current events as well as details of Community Council meetings (agendas, minutes).
Officers of the Community Council occasionally give presentations to local groups e.g. Cults Over 50’s, sharing information on activity which could have an impact on the area.
Are there other techniques we can employ which would be manageable by the volunteer members of the Community Council?
Media management – dealing with the press. The officers of the Community Council are often contacted by the local press for comments on events which have taken place or are currently happening in our area. The Community Councils Handbook 2012 provides useful advice on dealing with journalists to ensure that no comments are made which could compromise the Community Council and its members later.
Engaging Aberdeen City Council officers on the views of the Community Council. The Cults, Bieldside and Milltimber Community Council sits within the Lower Deeside electoral ward and we have three City Councillors to represent our views and those of the local electorate. The councillors elected at the 2017 local elections were; Phillip Bell, Marie Boulton, Tauqeer Malik. The City Councillors are useful contacts for hearing details on City Council plans and also for raising issues for the attention of City Council Officers. Community Council Officers also make direct contact with some City Council Officers on matters relating to the community.
Community Council Objectives
To establish a representative view of our community as possible on matters that will, or could have, an impact on the lives of those people living in the community.
To present the community views to the Aberdeen City Council and other Scottish Government groups on local matters of importance and on government policies which impact community well being.
- To maintain all the current arrangements for consultation and communicating with the public, the media and official bodies.
- To explore further ways of finding out the views of the community on specific issues.
- To develop a template for news releases and for use in dealing with press questions.
- To establish a list of contacts in the media to support CC communications.
- Views from the public would be welcome on the points addressed above, particularly on:
- How can we improve the gathering of public opinion?
- How can the Community Council share information and how can this be improved?