3 Identifying and contacting community bodies
3.1 The draft guidance, as set out in the consultation document, recognises the difficulty in identifying community bodies due to the broad definition in section 106 of the Act. It recommends that local authorities work with community planning partners and organisations, such as Voluntary Action Scotland, to help identify relevant groups in the local area. Although no specific methods are suggested in the draft guidance, the expectation is that a variety of methods will be used to reach community bodies with the recommendation to consult the National Standards for Community Engagement. Question 4 of the consultation asked if there were any other ways to identify or contact community bodies.
Question 4: What, if any, further ways should local authorities use to identify and contact relevant community bodies?
3.2 Forty one respondents answered this question. A small number felt the recommendations were fine as stated, however, a range of suggestions were made regarding how to identify and contact relevant community bodies:
- Make use of the local media (this was about raising awareness and asking for notes of interest)
- Posting notices at the land/property and multi-media advertising campaign and encouraging community groups to get in touch
- Use Community Councils to identify community bodies, with the view expressed that this should be used to give the Community Council role more relevance as the overarching community group that has regard for wider community concerns compared to perhaps many other types of more specialist community groups that exist
- Use existing local networks across all sectors which are in the plan e.g. Children and Families services; Health and Social Care Partnership; Development Trust Association members; Social Enterprise networks; business/social/civic society networks; Third Sector networks and heritage networks
- All local authorities should post their Common Good property on a central database managed by one agency in Scotland, i.e. the Registers of Scotland. This can then be used as preliminary information for registering in the Land Register.
- Consult lists/registers e.g those held at Council libraries of community organisations; list of the registered tenant groups; Office of the Scottish Charity regulator ( OSCR) database of registered charities
- Via village halls, community centres; adverts in libraries, churches and schools – it is not always known what community bodies exist and these are ways of getting in touch with community members in general.
- Via local councillors; also Ward / Neighbourhood / Community Worker posts in local authorities
- Via Development Trusts Association Scotland to identify Development Trusts
- Include list of known relevant community bodies in Common Good register associated with the former burgh which would then enable any bodies not listed to get in touch
- Email, including all known community email lists
- Social media (this is about advertising via Council social media channels as well as contacting via community group media channels)
- Direct contact to council tax payers
- Organise a meeting in local area where no suitable community representative body exists
- Take advice from key organisations known in local areas
- Attend groups e.g. older people lunch clubs
3.3 A point was made that the guidance should make clear that the legislation allows for a wide definition of what constitutes a community body.
3.4 Edinburgh Council expressed concern that it was not clear what the expectation is in terms of what the local authority should do. SOLAR and Aberdeenshire Council echoed this to a degree and suggested the guidance should make it clear that, provided local authorities have taken the required steps to publicise the list in accordance with the guidance, and taken all reasonable steps to ascertain if there are any community groups, then this should suffice.
3.5 Edinburgh Council also made the point that consideration should be given as to whether links could/need to be made with the “Guidance on Engaging Communities in Decisions Relating to Land” under Part 4 of the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2016 in terms of community consultation and engagement".