What is a Community Council?

A community council is a group of local people who care about their community and want to make their area a better place to live. People may say that ‘things are pretty good around here’, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they can’t be better still!

Our part of the town is very fortunate in so many ways, especially with respect to the amount of available open space for leisure and recreation. However, experience shows that complacency about all this is not an option. The recent campaign to save the ‘horse grazing’ field adjoining Liberton Drive from development is sufficient illustration of why we all need to stay permanently on our toes.

A community council can help everyone to work with local groups, it can listen to community concerns, it can consult with people on local initiatives (the Balmwell estate re-development might be a good example of where such consultation can be very useful and necessary) and, of course, it can influence local planning applications, and have its say on transport, community safety, environmental and licensing matters. Liberton community council is represented on the recently formed Liberton and Gilmerton Local Neighbourhood Partnership. This means that whatever’s agreed on ‘up there’ takes into account the view of the local community, as represented by its own community council.

When you read this, you may well be inclined to think, “Well, that’s all very well, but what real difference does having such an organisation on my doorstep make to me, personally? State the benefits please!”

It’s a good question, and if the community council is doing its job properly it should, we think, have a good answer! This is one possible answer, but others may come up with a better one!

“A community council is doing its job if and when everyone knows it’s there, everyone knows it’s ready to listen, and if, when it does, it’s prepared to respond to and act robustly, within its own brief, on the concerns or interests expressed by individuals and groups in its area.!”

Certainly, that is the sort of ‘mission statement’ I suggest that we are more than ready to take on board and to be judged by.

Obviously, those of us serving on the community council would hope that we could do all that is asked of us, but,naturally, there have to be limits set on what we can and can’t do, and it is only right that we should be very honest about that.

For one thing, all of us are busy time-constrained people, offering our services for free .For another, we’re constrained by a very modest budget that pays expenses but not very much more. If you want to help directly , you should get in touch with us. You’ll certainly be made very welcome!

The value of the newly-constituted Neighbourhood Partnerships, in our view, is that they can, in fact, take on the ‘bigger issues’ which lie outwith the competence of community councils to do very much about on their own. For example, roadworks, or parking penalties,or school closures or the tram network, under-age drinking, or licensing hours or business rates may indeed be matters of concern Edinburgh-wide, but we must inevitably limit ourselves to our ‘patch’ in terms of what we individually campaign for and about .

It is very much our intention to align ourselves closely with the aims and objectives outlined in the draft Local Community Plan. If you contact Susan Bruce on 0131 529 5151, or simply turn up at an LGNP meeting (the next one is next Wednesday at the Faith Mission Centre!), we are fairly sure you could get hold of a copy.

If not, contact us on 0131 664 7829, and we’ll arrange to get one delivered to you.

All the key indicators of community ‘health’ are listed in the vision statement of the draft document. They focus in on public health, housing, the environment, economic development and an effective strategy for fostering community engagement.

Liberton and District CC has been going for about six years or so and has some splendid ‘interventions’ to celebrate, two of which are mentioned above. For some years, in June, it ran a successful Gala (Fun) day at “the Mansion” It has been instrumental in assisting with environmental improvements in the area and it won a notable victory, some years ago, in persuading TIE to avoid putting a tramline through Inch Park!

If you’d like to find out more about who we are and how we work, why not turn up to one of our monthly meetings? Our next meeting is in St Catherine’s Church Hall at 7 pm for 7.30 pm on Tuesday the 27th of January. We’ll be very pleased to see you there!

Chris Hampton
Chair (pro tem.)
Liberton and District Community Council