Information for community councillors
This information page has been developed to support community councillors in their day to day role and answer some frequently asked questions.
Once a community council is inaugurated it elects its office bearers: these are the Chairperson, Vice Chairperson, Treasurer and Secretary. Other office bearers can include Minute Secretary, Planning and Publicity Officers.
Community councils have a great deal of scope to get involved in a variety of local issues, to develop local projects and activities, on their own or with other groups. Community councils have a wide sphere of responsibility and influence.
Scheme for the Establishment of Community Councils
Community councils are governed by the Scheme for Establishment of Community Councils in Dumfries and Galloway. This sets out how they should operate including, elections, membership rules and meeting arrangements. The Scheme for the Establishment of Community Councils in Dumfries and Galloway was originally adopted in 1997. Since then various amendments have been agreed by Dumfries and Galloway Council.
Reviewing the Scheme
We are currently reviewing the Scheme. We completed Phase 1 of a consultation and this was reported to a Full Council meeting on Tuesday 27 June 2017. Phase 2 of the consultation closed on Friday 27 October and this was reported to a Full Council meeting on Tuesday 12 December 2017. Phase 3 is now open until Friday 30 March:
A number of community councils were found to be disestablished earlier this year when they were found to have not complied with the Scheme. This raised a number of questions. The common questions, and answers, have been collated into an FAQ document
Template constitution to comply with the amended Scheme 2014
At a meeting of Dumfries and Galloway Council on 26 June 2014, elected Members adopted the amended Scheme for the Establishment of Community Councils. This means that existing community councils automatically fall under the terms of the newly amended Scheme, and they will have to adopt a new Constitution. Your Community Council Liaison Officer has developed an implementation plan which explains what community councils need to do to adopt the amended Scheme, and when they need to do this.
The template Constitution needs to be agreed and adopted by community councils at an Annual or Extraordinary General Meeting.
How to make a community council business enquiry
The Community Council Enquiry Service (CCES) has been developed to improve and manage the vast and wide ranging enquiries made by our Community Councils. Community councils should email their enquiry to CCESmailbox@dumgal.gov.uk or tel: 030 33 33 3000.
Public Liability Insurance for community councils
Dumfries and Galloway Council provides a 'blanket' public liability insurance scheme for local community councils. The current public liability insurance scheme started on 1 May 2017 and we have paid the premium for all local community councils that are currently established.
Insurance papers were issued by our insurance brokers (Keegan & Pennykid) to the main contact for each community council when the cover began.
Your cover includes public liability, libel and slander, professional indemnity, personal accident, employer's liability and Trustee indemnity. We are pleased to advise that as of July 2013 the cover was extended to include community resilience activities.
It is for individual community councils to assure themselves over the level of cover that they have, and they must ensure they take out extra insurance cover for other activities not covered by the "blanket" policy such as gala days, switching on Christmas lights and grass-cutting. The advice to community councils is that if they have any doubt as to the appropriateness of their insurance cover, they may decide to withdraw from the 'blanket' scheme and make arrangements for their own insurance. In this case the community council must contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Community councils may approach the current public liability insurance provider, or any other insurance provider, with regard to their other insurance requirements. Contact details for the current insurance provider are:
Liz Drysdale, Commercial Department, Keegan & Pennykid (Insurance Brokers) Ltd
Direct Dial Tel: 0131 243 9664; Direct Fax: 0131 243 9680
Code of Conduct for Community Councillors
The Code of Conduct, which is part of the Scheme that was amended in June 2014, provides standards of conduct for Community Councillors in carrying out their duties, and in their relationships with the Council and the Council's officers.
Code of Practice for the exchange of Information
Dumfries and Galloway Council has created a check list of good practice which acts as the code of practice for the exchange of information between Community Councils and the Council.
Good Practice Guidance for Local Authorities and Community Councils
The Scottish Government has updated its Good Practice Guidance for Community Councils. Should you have any difficulties in downloading this document, please contact Kathleen Glazik at the Scottish Government on 0131 244 2794 to request a paper copy.
Community Council Discretionary Grants
In 2013, community council administration grants became known as discretionary grants, allowing community councils more flexibility as to how they spend their annual grant.
The level of grant funding remains the same as for financial year 2016/17 and as of 1 April 2015 we simplified the discretionary grant process. Communities Business Management will send a short application/monitoring form to your community council every year.
What do community councils need to do to be eligible to receive their discretionary grant?
- The grant must be used to further the community council's statutory purposes, role and responsibilities and for no other purpose.
- The community council must send its agendas and minutes to Communities Business Management within the appropriate timescales (see section 12.5 of the amended Scheme).
- Where appropriate, the community council must provide evidence of attendance at a minimum of 2 Federation meetings for the previous financial year (where a local Federation or Network is operating) - this evidence may be Federation or Network minutes.
- The community council must complete an annual/monitoring form which is satisfactory.
- The community council must submit financial accounts for its most recent complete financial year. The accounts must be examined and certified by an independent examiner of accounts who is not connected to the community council (see section 12.4a of the amended Scheme).
Data Protection Registration
Community councils have an obligation under the Data Protection Act 1998 to register with the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO). There is a cost of £35 a year for data protection registration and Dumfries and Galloway Council previously made the administrative arrangements for this cover. However, due to difficulties with the administrative process, as of financial year 2013/14 each of our local community councils reverted to being responsible for registering with the ICO for data protection, and Community Councils should receive a reminder letter directly from the ICO some time before their registration fee is due to be paid. The annual fee of £35 should be made using the Community Councils' discretionary grant.
Payments to Honorary Secretaries/Treasurers
If your Secretary or Treasurer is paid an honorarium by your community council, it is necessary to check with HM Revenue & Customs as to whether PAYE comes into effect. This very much depends on the personal circumstances of each person receiving payment.
- The individual receiving the honorarium may telephone HM Revenue & Customs on 0845 300 0627 and choose the PAYE coding query options; OR
- Your community council should send a letter to HM Revenue & Customs, PAYE & Self-Assessment, PO Box 1970, Liverpool, L75 1WX (include the names of the people receiving the honorarium, their national insurance numbers, how much the payment is for each person, and what tax year the payments relate to).
Independent Complaints Procedure
The Independent Complaints Procedure is not mandatory but community councils may choose to adopt this at an ordinary meeting.
How do we find out the views of our local communities?
The Scottish Government is committed to people in Scotland having a greater say in how local services are planned and delivered. It's only by listening to the experiences and ideas of the people who live in these communities that we can find solutions which will make a lasting difference.
Local community councils are encouraged to use the National Standards for Community Engagement as a good practice tool which provides a common set of ground rules that should be applied to both sides of the engagement process. One of the standards relates to overcoming any barriers to involvement and, for example, a community council may use its discretionary grant to pay for community councillors to attend appropriate meetings on its behalf.