Community councils are voluntary organisations that act as a voice for their local area. Every local community can request their local authority to establish a community council in their area.
They meet regularly to discuss issues affecting their area, including planning and licensing applications. All meetings are held in public and residents are encouraged to attend their local meeting.
Being a community councillor means you have shared responsibility for the success of the community council, even if you are not an office bearer. You must commit to the role and uphold the standards and values of the community council. All members should contribute to discussions and decisions concerning the work of the community council.
Roles within a community council
There are various ways in which you can play your part in your community council. Each community council must have a chairperson, a treasurer and a secretary – the office bearers – and these roles carry the most responsibility. The office bearers, as elected members representing their local communities are responsible for the efficient and effective operation of the community council.
This doesn't mean to say that the office bearers must do all the work, but they are responsible for making sure that everything is done according to the Scheme of Establishment for Community Councils and the Community Council Constitution.
All members of the community council are equally responsible for the community council’s decisions and actions and may take on additional activities in support of the community council.
The office bearers' roles are described below, followed by an outline of other potential roles within a community council.
The chairperson can make a massive difference to the success of a community council. Meetings are key to the community council making decisions on what its priorities are and what work it has to do. The chairperson is responsible for ensuring that discussions are productive and run on-time and that clear action points are set.
The secretary ensures the smooth running of the community council by organising meetings, setting the agenda and keeping minutes and records.ﾠSecretaries also ensure effective communication between committee members.
The treasurer is responsible for handling the community council’s finances. It is his or her responsibility to ensure that the finances are kept healthy and the community council does not get into debt. The treasurer must oversee all financial administration and transactions of the community council and make decisions regarding these.
Community councils might want to consider if there is a need to create a specific role in response to an area or project that needs a lot of attention for example:
- Planning representative
- Community planning representative
- Project leaders
- Communications officer