Community Councillors make a huge and positive difference – could YOU be one of them? Plus, funding reprieve for some budget cut council services and ‘perplexing and unprofessional’ SNP Councillors in this week’s newsletter
All in this the latest update from Stirling Council Leader and Scottish Labour Councillor Chris Kane
Community council elections
It’s an election year for Community Councils across Stirling, with the nomination period for Community Councillors opening on 3rd April and closing on 17th April. Having previously served as a Community Councillor on both Braehead and Mercat Cross, I am keenly aware of the vital role these bodies play in local areas. From having a statutory right to comment on planning applications, to accessing money for local projects, to working collaboratively or being a critical friend to public bodies including Stirling Council and Police Scotland, I cannot stress enough how much of a positive difference an organised and engaged community council can have in any community.
Community Councils are a ‘constituted organisation’, two words that don’t mean much unless you’re applying for money. There are funds available to communities for projects, provided by all levels of government, philanthropic organisations and the National Lottery. For example, Stirling Council has the ‘Community Pride’ Fund and accepts applications for up to £1500 for projects designed by and important to the community making the application. Community Councils are able to work collaboratively with public bodies such as Stirling Council and Police Scotland to ensure the services these bodies provide align with community priorities. Most importantly, Community Councils are free to do whatever they can build support for in their communities that makes a difference. In Braehead, where I was on the Community Council from 2011-2017, we raised £247,000 to build a community garden. Every Community Council can point at something they’ve achieved that can make a difference.
Braehead and Broomridge Community Council is one of two community council areas in the Stirling East Ward. The other is ‘Hillpark and Milton’, which is unfortunately one of just three communities in the district which has failed to attract enough volunteers to form a community council for some years now. This means a quieter voice and missed funding for community projects and priorities. As a ward councillor, I’ll always do everything I can to speak up for my communities, but I know how much more can be achieved with a strong community council.
To become a Community Councillor, you need to be a registered voter in your area. I first joined a Community Council in my twenties and I recall the advice I was given from a community councillor when I was thinking of standing – she said, ‘you can either complain or do something about it – what would you find more rewarding?’ I think about that often and I would encourage anyone who wants to do something positive to put themselves forward and join their local community council.
You’ll find information about community councils and information on the forthcoming elections on the Stirling Council website.
You can now receive a regular newsletter update from me direct into your email inbox. In this week’s edition, I’ll talk more about a funding reprieve for some budget cut council services and why I think the recent behaviour of the SNP Councillors on Stirling Council is both perplexing and unprofessional.