Scottish Greens – East Renfrewshire

Community Councils in East Renfrewshire

Here’s East Renfrewshire Green Laura Stevens with a report on recent developments with our community councils:

On 24th June East Renfrewshire Council (ERC) voted to bring in a new Scheme of Establishment for Community Councils (CC). This was in spite of the fact that the area’s CCs were already halfway through an elected term. ERC had been heavily criticised for rushing through this Scheme in light of the Community Empowerment Bill. The new Scheme also dissolved Newton Mearns Community Council, which has been split into two separate areas: Broom, Kirkhill and Mearnskirk, and Crookfur, Greenfarm and Mearns Village with no consultation of the residents in the Newton Mearns ward. Nominations opened on the 12th August and closed at noon on Friday 11th September, with concerning results.

Breaking News: A statement released today by members of the Newton Mearns Community Council states they will continue to function under that name, serving the people of the community.

Screen Shot 2015-09-12 at 15.48.01

Screenshot taken from Newton Mearns Community Council Facebook page on 12th September 2015

Over half of East Renfrewshire Community Councils ceased to exist at noon today (Friday 11th September). Only 5 community councils out of 11 have elected enough members to allow them to re-establish. This means that over half of East Renfrewshire’s population has no access to a community council and the support and advice they can offer.

It is alarming that existing Community Councillors have chosen to effectively resign from their posts and not seek nomination. What could have lay behind their decision?

Perhaps the new Code of Conduct sheds some light on this. Many Community Councillors have refused to seek re-nomination in protest against its introduction. The introduction of a new disciplinary process has caused the most outcry (see Section 12 Scheme of Establishment).

Any complaints made against a Community Council or Community Councillor can be brought before a panel. This panel comprises of 3 Councillors and 2 Community Councillors. However, any decisions passed by the panel can be ratified by a quorum of 3 members. It is not difficult to speculate that perhaps decisions passed at these panels may favour the Council’s interests, rather than the good of the community.

Because, after all, that’s what Community Councils are there for. To act as a link between the community and the Council. The lack of engagement with this new scheme from across East Ren highlights how little faith there is in our local government.

A statement released this afternoon by Councillor Mary Montague advised “There will be further opportunities for people from other areas to become a community representative in the coming weeks and months.”

East Renfrewshire Greens endorses the introduction of more community involvement in local government, but not on the terms offered by ERC. We would welcome more opportunities to engage with the Council and add our voice to the reforms to local government desperately needed by East Renfrewshire and across Scotland.

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6 comments on “Community Councils in East Renfrewshire

  1. Briefing Notes
    September 15, 2015

    You are correct in what you report. However the senior CCllrs decided they, as volunteers, were not going to put themselves in personal jeopardy by being bound by such a draconian scheme. By way of example, the disciplinary section does not permit representation, allow for unavailability or illness nor is there any right of appeal. It also reserves the right to the so called ‘supreme panel’ to refer the matter for determination to any other body of it’s choice. In theory you could find yourself isolated and having to represent yourself at the Court of Session. Perhaps slightly ridiculous but certainly not ruled out.

    At the end of the day, CCllrs. are volunteers trying to represent their communities, not be harassed and subject to diktat.

    The biggest issue with the new unlawful scheme is it removes the independence of CCs despite this being enshrined in the enabling legislation.

    There is a lot more info available from Briefing Notes or see the abridged version of Briefing Notes on Facebook.

    Liked by 1 person

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This entry was posted on September 12, 2015 by in Community Councils and tagged , .
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