Fairer Scotland event for Community Councils 11: gathered reactions

This post gathers my reactions to the event’s sessions. Click any heading to go to the relevant post.

Context for the Fairer Scotland Event – Marco Biagi MSP

  • 6% of active CCs were represented. Delegates lost either a day’s holiday or some pay to attend.

Community Councils: Future Challenges and Opportunities

  • CCs need to lead, to take opportunities (not wait to be given them), and earn the right to represent. But this applies to all representatives as far as I am concerned.
  • CCllrs will have to develop rhinoceros-strength hides to deal with public opprobrium should they make decisions people don’t like. And for every decision, you will find someone who doesn’t like it.

Workshop 1 – What are the issues that matter most to you as a community councillor?

  • Many citizens are not white, UK/European or middle class. Why are they not represented? What are CCs doing to reach out to other communities?
  • CCs can do things, so long as they have the resources and abilities.
  • I question some delegates’ statements that CCs can’t own things.
  • I see no legal barrier preventing CCs from raising their own funds.

Q&A session with Marco Biagi and Mark McAteer

  • How will CCs be included in Community Planning Partnerships?’ (In general they are not.) What is the point of supposedly representative bodies being excluded from structures that have massive influence on local matters?
  • Sudden, massive change doesn’t work, in my opinion. Also, not all CC members will be immediately ready for new powers. So I suggest that individual CCs take (or are given) the powers and duties for which they are ready.

Workshop 2 – What do you think needs to be done to help community councils create a fairer Scotland?

  • Proper representation of their communities is necessary for CCs to earn respect.
  • Induction packs, consistent across Scotland, would help.
  • Training must be on-going, as CC members hand over duties to their successors.

A Community Council’s Role in Creating a Fairer Scotland – John Wilby, Community Councillor, Chair of Paisley West & Central Community Council

  • So-called community bodies that do not really represent their communities may take over community assets. Also, where is the democracy in self-created community bodies?
  • Local fora that include other local and community bodies may be a way forward. I wonder whether this model is better than simple CC associations.

Workshop 3 – How can your community council play a role in helping to shape Scotland’s future?

No thoughts here, sorry

Break-out and vote on suggestions: Dotmocracy

No thoughts here, sorry

Thoughts and encounters part 1

  • Some CCs have spent over £1000 commissioning web developers to produce bespoke websites. This is just wrong. If CCs are going to spend that much money, it should be on planning and training themselves to run their online presences. Avoiding vendor lock-inand succession-planning are the key themes here.
  • One of the SG officials I spoke with agreed that the CC website hasn’t yet found its voice. It’s now time to ask CCs and other citizens what is needed, then keep on developing the site using an agile model.
  • CC Facebook pages get more engagement that CC websites. (I think CCs will also need to websites to host minutes and other documents in an accessible manner.)

Thoughts and encounters part 2

  • Perhaps all CC elections across Scotland should be on the same day.
  • I think there needs to be a national body of CCs. But rather than setting up an association that many CCs won’t join according to recent experience, it may be better to aim for an organic network of CC members, sharing knowledge and ideas. Perhaps local fora that include CCs, or LA associations of CCs, can reach out to each other.
  • CCs can be part of the ‘smart city’ idea.
  • CCs can have some influence. More such success stories are needed, and they need to be publicised.
  • I’d be delighted to run a  digiCC workshop in Glasgow.
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