Community Councils – The Estates of the Kingdom of Scotland
The Local Government (Scotland) Act 1973 effectively reconstituted the “Estates of the Kingdom of Scotland” with the introduction of community councils. These were to represent grass roots opinion, rather than discharge functions and be called a tier of local government. Their role was defined as “to ascertain, co-ordinate and express to the local authorities for its area, and to public authorities, the views of the community which it represents.”
But even this limited role was undermined by the Local Government (Scotland) Act 2003 which empowered local authorities to take the lead in consulting communities directly as part of the process of ‘community planning’, in which the “Estates of Scotland” were reduced to mere consultees with no higher status than any other community group.
As of 2012–3, there were 1,369 community council areas in Scotland, of which 1,129 (82%) have active community councils. There are also 3 Neighbourhood Representative Structures established in Dundee as alternatives to community councils.
Since the 1990s there has been a recognition that Scotland’s communities need more powers to govern themselves. However the actions that have been taken to achieve this have been characterised by vagueness that has made them ineffective. For example section 23 of the Local Government etc (Scotland) Act 1994 required local authorities to institute a scheme of decentralisation. However the Act failed to explain what this should mean in practice, with the result that many local authorities did little more than carry out a few consultation exercises.
It is time the Scottish government restored the full powers of the “Estates of Scotland” to Community Councils in line with the wishes of the people of Scotland as set out in the aims and ambitions of “Salvo”. Full details at “https://salvo.scot/claim-of-right/”.
3 thoughts on “It is time the Scottish government restored the full powers of the “Estates of Scotland” to Community Councils in line with the wishes of the people of Scotland as set out in the aims and ambitions of “Salvo”.”
Reconvening the Estates under the Community Councils would be the wrong way to go. The CCs are just there to give the illusion of public participation within the Local Authority.
If we are going to do this based on principle and legality, rewriting the Local Govt Acts is essential. And if that is the case then reconvene the Burghs with powers, unlike the powerless CCs.
But the Community Council legislation is up but not running because the Scottish government has not yet transferred powers away from the District/Town Councils as envisaged. The SNP are able to turn things round by making those changes now. No need for any involvement with the UK government since the rules are already in place.
What new legislation?
Local authorities have statutory oversight of community councils, based on Section 51 (2) of the Local Government (Scotland) Act 1973. Then we have The Local Government (Scotland) Acts 1994, 2003, and 2004.
The only possible aspect I’m aware of is the Community Empowerment Act 2015, prior to Nic’s incumbency, and she’s done everything within her powers to water that empowerment down eg Local Authorities creating Community Empowerment offices. Participation Requests are now being sidelined under the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals aspects in fostering sustainable communities, where the Kooncil knows best.
I agree that we have to transfer powers of the “Estates of Scotland” to communities (The Burghs) but to do that we MUST create an entirely new Act on Governance; something that ought to have already been established.
But maybe I’ve missed something.
Can you supply a link to this new CC Legislation?