New Minister Designate for Local Government and Planning Derek Mackay today launched a group to look into ways to strengthen Scotland's community councils, and urged people to get more involved.
Mr Mackay chaired the first meeting of the group today, his first engagement as Minister Designate.
Community councils are democratic, statutory bodies of elected volunteers representing the views and needs of communities to local councils and other public agencies working in their area. Many do much more, including managing local projects, assets and services.
The working group, which had its first meeting today, includes representatives from five community councils throughout Scotland, as well as five councils and a COSLA representative.
The group will investigate ways to build the resilience and capacity of community councils, in order to strengthen their role and relevance as voices for their communities.
It will discuss ways of increasing the diversity of representation on community councils, and ways to help community councils play an active role in their communities and work together. The group will also look at strengthening the link between community councils and community planning and the role of Local Authority Community Council Liaison Officers in supporting community councils, including providing training and development.
Minister Designate for Local Government and Planning Derek Mackay said:
"Community councils do important work representing the views and needs of communities to local Councils and other public agencies working in their area.
"Their work is vital and often complex, and they rely upon the work of volunteers.
"The Scottish Government has a commitment to strengthen and grow the role of community councils.
"This working group will look at how we can better support community councils including looking at how to increase the diversity of their members.
"But I would also urge anyone who wants to find out more about community councils in their area and how they can get more involved to contact their local authority."
The Short Life Working Group on Community Councils includes representatives from five community councils across Scotland as well as six local authorities.
The group is expected to produce a written report of its findings in summer 2012.