At the heart of your community - volunteer led community councils make a positive impact
How much do you know about your community council and the positive impact its work has on your area? Perhaps you’re a local resident who would like to get more involved in your community, and want to learn more about it?
Showcasing community councils
Throughout April, the Scottish Community Councils website is showcasing the varied work of community councils across Scotland. Using the Twitter hashtag #CelebrateCCs, they’re highlighting some of the best projects, activities and events and are encouraging others to share their favourites too.
Sharing knowledge and experience
By highlighting the range of community projects underway across the country, the aim is to share knowledge and experience, raise the profile of community councils, and encourage individuals and other organisations to learn more about them.
Bringing local people and groups together
There are 16 community councils in Midlothian. Led by volunteers, their aim is to bring local people and groups together to discuss local matters and promote the well-being of their communities. They also work closely with Midlothian Council to raise local issues and advise and influence them on behalf of the communities they represent.
Support for our communities
“We want to celebrate the hard work of our community councils and the local projects that do so much to support our communities,” said Midlothian Council Leader, Councillor Derek Milligan. “A key aim is to encourage more people to volunteer, especially if they have a particular skill or interest – whether it be as a treasurer, planning expert, environmental campaigner or local organiser. We are also aware that young people have a lot to contribute and want to encourage more of them to get involved. Anyone from the age of 16 upwards can join.”
Here are some of the success stories from Midlothian’s community councils:
The Federation of Community Councils meets to address common themes from across Midlothian. They are currently prioritising the impact of rapid housing development and the need to ensure that there is adequate infrastructure to meet the needs of a growing population.
Moorfoot Community Council has recently signed contracts with BT to take ownership of the public phone boxes in North Middleton and Carrington with the intention of having defibrillators installed in them. The community council is currently looking for volunteers to help with the refurbishment work and to source funding for the defibrillators.
Moorfoot has also fully supported the development of the area’s Neighbourhood Plan. The challenge will now be to implement and add to the actions outlined, and more volunteers from the community are welcome to be part of this process.
Gorebridge and District and Moorfoot Community Councils successfully altered their boundaries after consultations in each of the community council areas. The new boundary takes into account the new housing estate at Harvieston and the planned new estate at Redheugh. Because these new developments will access facilities in the Gorebridge area, it is better to align them with Gorebridge and District Community Council.
A campaign by Rosewell and District Community Council to address safety issues on the A6094 resulted in a reduction of the speed limit to 50mph on the stretch of the road from Rosewell to Upper Firth. Police Scotland increased patrols on the road and mobile speed cameras were deployed. The indications are that this has seen a reduction in the number of accidents.
Mayfield and Easthouses Community Council regularly attracts 15 to 20 local people to its meetings and its Facebook page has more than 4000 members. It came into its own recently during the adverse weather when the community council was able to keep everyone updated about road conditions, shop stock levels, and public transport. Members were able to both request assistance and offer their services to others and a real community spirit was shown.
In March this year, the community council also organised a litter pick. The 11 people who took part collected 22 bags of rubbish, making the area safer and cleaner for residents.
Eskbank and Newbattle Community Council will be working with McDonald’s when it opens at the Tesco Hardengreen development to make sure the area surrounding the restaurant is looked after. The community also recently pulled together to help coordinate support for a young homeless man.
Tynewater Community Council has been working in partnership with Police Scotland to raise awareness of speed limits, particularly in the small villages and the roads near Tynewater Primary School. The A68 Focus Group, whose membership includes several community councillors, leafleted every house in Pathhead, asking the residents to complete a questionnaire to express their concerns. A detailed report was submitted to the local MSP and to Transport Scotland describing over 50 locations where engineering interventions could make a significant contribution to the safety of road users.
In response to a proposal by Midlothian Council officers to make savings by stopping the subsidy to a local bus service, the community council also helped organise a public meeting in Pathhead in late November 2017, which was attended by over 200 people. Following public consultation, the proposed saving was rejected by Midlothian councillors at their budget meeting in February.
Bonnyrigg and Lasswade Community Council was recognised by the local government Improvement Service for its use of video to share information on Facebook. It has used videos to recruit new members, share planning consultation information, and to show the chairman's annual summary at a community council meeting. See more on the Community Councils scotland website.
The Community Council also supported the development of the David Dunn Fitness Trail in George V Park, Bonnyrigg.
Damhead and District and Roslin and Bilston Community Councils are working closely together to increase the involvement of the residents of Corby Craig in one, or both, of their community councils and are looking at possible changes to the existing community council boundaries.
Roslin and Bilston Community Council regularly attracts 10 to 20 people to its meetings. Its many successes include hosting public meetings with building development companies operating within the area. The community council has expertise in planning, drainage and council responsibilities and commitments. It engages with Midlothian Council and building contractors to raise issues around these and other issues as development takes place. It has also been instrumental in establishing the ‘Midlothian Traffic, Roads and Paths’ group which is a sub group of the Federation of Community Councils.
Penicuik and District Community Council includes representatives from several community groups including Penicuik First, Penicuik YMCA, Glencorse, Town Crier and a wide range of local residents who care about their town. Successes include the Christmas lights, the street fair, Citizen of the Year, and membership of the Local Licensing Forum amongst others. It supports various events and organisations including the Hunter Lad and Lass celebrations and was instrumental in the installation of the speed camera in Milton Bridge.
Howgate Community Council is well attended by a proactive group of local residents. Its successes include addressing traffic issues, such as temporary speed calming measures, with local Police and public consultations to address the development of the Glebe. As a conservation village, Howgate has a lot to protect and the community council was a vocal opponent of the plans to build a medium sized wind farm in the area. It engages with Midlothian Council and elected members regularly and is a fine example of community democracy and activism.