Community councils are up for review

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Community councils across East Renfrewshire may have to revise how they operate as the council agrees to push ahead with a new draft scheme of establishment.

As reported in The Extra, East Renfrewshire Council had in March threatened to disassociate three community councils — Thornliebank, Newton Mearns and Clarkston — claiming that each had breached their constitution.

At a full council meeting last week, the decision was unanimous that a new draft scheme should be developed following an independent review of more than 900 people.

Councillors will be asked to approve a new scheme in September, followed by a 12 week public consultation.

ERC leader Jim Fletcher said: “Community councils can achieve great things for the area. But this can only be done if community councils operate with the greatest of integrity and are truly representative.

“Every step should be taken to remove barriers that prevent more people from getting involved — especially young people, women and those from an ethnic minority background.”

Giffnock community councillor Savio D’Souza welcomes the review, calling the current scheme “flawed and unworkable with no enforceable teeth”.

He told The Extra: “We need a structured training programme to support new volunteers in understanding their roles.

“There is far too much evidence that community councils are not achieving because of stale dinosaurs blocking places.

“If we don’t seize this opportunity then communities will be poorer, failing to unlock local talent and potential.”

However, Harry Stewart, of Newton Mearns CC, commented: “The government are also doing a review on community councils at the moment, so it seems an immense amount of money — our money — to be wasted.”

He added: “Relations between the community councils and ERC are not great, but they are improving. There seems to be a war against those who criticise the council intensely — as is their right — but there has to be a path for those of us in the middle ground.”