Capacity building for community councillors on relevant topics is available via the Community Council Development Sessions.
Glasgow Community Councils' Development Session
The Glasgow Community Councils' Development Session took place on Saturday 17th September 2016.
A Summary Report can be found here: Glasgow Community Council's Development Session Summary Report 170916 [647kb]
Below information provides an overview of the role of community council members, and of the office bearer positions within community councils.
Members of community councils are elected by the local community. They have this in common with local authority councillors, and Members of the Holyrood and Westminster Parliaments.
Even if, due to a shortage of nominations, your "seat" was uncontested, and no actual election took place, your Constitution provides for nomination and election. If properly nominated, by two local residents who are on the Electoral Register, you are as much elected as would be the case in a contested election.
For this reason, it is important that each community council distinguishes between its Voting Members, and others who are allowed to sit in at meetings.
As a member you may attend meetings, speak and (if permitted by the Constitution) vote, as of right. You serve for the term allowed by your community council's Constitution. As a community council member you should represent all the community, not any specific group, although inevitably, different members have particular areas of interest. Such diversity can add to the collective strength of the community council.
Most community councils invite community Police officers to attend their meetings on a regular basis, and others, such as Council officers, to attend and speak to the meeting by special invitation. Such "guests" can make an important contribution to the meeting.
All formal meetings should be open to the public (and to the press) unless in the case of confidential matters the Constitution permits discussion in private. It is common practice for the Chairman to ask anyone attending whether they would like to address the meeting and/or take part in the discussion on matters which he/she knows to be of particular interest.
The rights of these latter two groups are clear - no more, no less, than that of any local elector or member of the public.
As a new member of a community council it is important that you understand the role you will play in your community from the outset. This means not simply offering your own views and opinions on local issues, or taking decisions that are based only on your own self-interest.
As a community council member, you need to represent the views of your community, or your section of the community. In practice, this involves discussing issues with people in the community to clarify their views and measuring the strength of their feelings on different topics.
It's also a good idea to encourage people to bring issues to you so that you can take them up at community council meetings. Endeavour to check out the facts, and if there are two sides to the story, make sure that both of them are put forward. There is little point in taking up time at meetings to discuss problems that are based simply on misunderstandings or misrepresentations of the facts. Remember, if in doubt, check it out!
At some point you may find some conflict between your personal views and interests and those of the community that you represent. If such a situation does arise, try to make sure that the views of the community take precedence.
Experience shows that if the views of individuals on the community council are allowed to take precedence then the wider community will very quickly lose confidence in the community council and its work may be devalued.
The task of any community council is to identify and reflect the needs and aspirations of its community. At some point, this might involve setting priorities on the competing or conflicting needs of different sections of the community.
Competition and conflict are normal, healthy aspects of any vibrant community, so you shouldn't think of them as something that can be altogether avoided.
What is important is that you approach competition or conflict in a fair and reasonable manner. This means taking a balanced view of your community's needs and aspirations and giving a fair hearing to representatives from different interest groups in your community.
In particular, you should avoid being influenced by prejudice, whether in the sphere of race, religion, gender or any other of the labels that get attached to people. Your community council Governance contains a specific clause to ensure that its general responsibilities and activities are carried out fully in accordance with current Equalities legislation and Glasgow City Council policies and practices.
The chairperson (some people prefer the term 'chair') has the most important role to play in making sure that community council meetings run smoothly. But even a good chairperson will find the task exhausting unless the role is respected and supported by all members of the community council.
The chairperson is elected in line with the rules set out in the community council's Constitution. Your secretary should be able to provide you with a copy. The constitution is very important because it provides the framework of procedures that govern the work of your community council.
The chairperson's job is to make sure that decisions are taken on all of the items which are on the agenda. This usually means that they have to make judgements about how much time to allocate to each agenda item. It also means that he or she may occasionally have to bring speakers back to the agenda and encourage people to make their contributions brief and to the point.
In regular meetings, the role is a formal one and all speakers will be expected to address their comments to the chair. This helps the chairperson to keep control of the discussion. In committee meetings where proceedings need not be so formal, the chairperson may be content simply to adopt an enabling role, and steer the general direction of the discussion.
The table below gives an indication of the nature of these differing roles:
THE FORMAL CHAIRPERSON
THE ENABLING CHAIRPERSON
Encourage fair play
Have an overview of the task/goals of the meeting
Stay in charge
Help to clarify goals
Take responsibility for what it wants to accomplish
Agenda and time keeping
Help the group to carry out its tasks
Introduce agenda items one at a time
Run through the agenda at the beginning to prepare the meeting for business
Be familiar with and introduce all agenda items
Arrange in advance for members to take ownership of some items
Get through the agenda in the allotted time
Keep track of the time and evaluate/summarise how the meeting went at the end
The secretary of a community council is generally responsible for:
To be successful, a community council must have an energetic and conscientious secretary prepared to put in the necessary time and effort. Community council members in general, and the chairperson in particular, should try to spread the secretary's load. For instance, by delegating some of his or her responsibilities to others, either individually or to small sub-committees, the secretary's time can be freed up. It's a bad policy to overload your secretary and you might find difficulty getting volunteers in future. The duties may of course be allocated to more than one person - examples include appointing a dedicated minute taker for meetings, assigning a member of the community council to liaise with the press and media, or setting up sub-groups to deal with grant applications or newsletter production. Given the responsibilities listed above, it is advantageous for the community council secretary to have access to email facilities.
The treasurer is responsible for issuing all cheques and making payments on behalf of the community council.
The treasurer must:
The treasurer must keep the community council's financial records so that they disclose, with reasonable accuracy at any time, the financial position of the community council.
All cheques issued should be signed by at least two of three persons authorised by the community council members as recorded in the minutes, and notified to the bank in writing. As a general rule, treasurers should avoid paying out money except by cheque. This makes accounting for expenditure much easier.
The treasurer must keep proper accounts of all receipts and expenditure, prepare an annual statement of accounts and have it certified as correct by a competent and independent examiner of accounts. They must be formally appointed by the members and named in the minutes.
The annual financial statement must be formally approved at the next annual general meeting when the treasurer must report and answer questions raised by members of the community council or the public. The certified and approved accounts should be sent to the local authority, as a condition of the annual administration allowance process.
The treasurer should also prepare simple budgets to advise members before they commit any funds.
Minutes in a standardised format must be taken of all ordinary meetings, annual general meetings, special meetings and any sub-committee meetings. These minutes must record:
It's not necessary to record every word spoken, except in the case of formal motions. Instead, they should be the summarised views of the members. The following points should also be taken into account:
Minutes of all meetings must be retained for future reference and passed on to each new secretary for safe keeping.
In addition to ordinary meetings of the community council; an Annual General Meeting (AGM) shall be held in October of each year to: