Fife Council’s responsibility for community councils’ crisis

Reacting to news that only 12 community councils out of 105 were set to reform going on the nominations received by Fife Council by Friday evening, Linda Holt commented:

“The responsibility for the low number of nominations to community councils rests squarely with Fife Council.

As Cllr Dominic Nolan pointed out a few weeks ago, community councils have been caught on the hop because Fife Council has not left people enough time to get their nominations in.

The process is also unnecessarily complex and cumbersome, requiring both nominees, proposers and seconders to enter their elector numbers which are only available on paper copies of the electoral register held at local offices, libraries and by some community councils if they have requested one. It’s surprisingly old-fashioned that these numbers cannot be obtained online. Moreover, it seems absurd that a candidate for a community council election requires a proposer and a seconder while candidates for Fife Council do not.

The Council could have put out information much further in advance, and the odd email to community councils coupled with a couple of articles in the press is patently not enough to encourage people to join community councils.

This is part of a much bigger problem where for too long community councils, and the hundreds of volunteers who man them and come to meetings, have been taken for granted by Fife Council. Many members of community councils tell me they find contacting Fife Council difficult, and that when they do, their concerns are not satisfactorily addressed. This leads some to feel powerless and question the point of having a community council at all.

If the Scottish Government and Fife Council are serious about community empowerment, they should focus on revitalising community councils as the traditional cornerstones of local democracy.”

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