Falkirk district community council elections postponed over lack of interest

Community Council elections for Falkirk district have been postponed in the hope of getting people more interested in taking part.

By Kirsty Paterson
Thursday, 21st October 2021, 4:03 pm
Cecil Meiklejohn, Leader of Falkirk Council, said more needs to be done to get people involved.
Cecil Meiklejohn, Leader of Falkirk Council, said more needs to be done to get people involved.

Members of Falkirk Council’s executive agreed that persuading people to take part in these elections was never easy – and holding them in October/November especially given the impact of Covid, would only make things worse.

Last time round, just one community council – Bo’ness – out of 23 across the district found it necessary to have an election to fill vacancies, and just one other managed to get a full complement of community councillors.

Others struggled to find enough volunteers, while several areas do not have a functioning community council at all.

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Recently, the council has been working with existing community council chairs to look at why interest is so low, although Covid-19 restrictions have also made this difficult.

A report to Falkirk Council’s executive said: “Postponing the election would allow the Council and Community Councils to work together to engage with their communities and allow the election to be held at a more suitable time for communities.”

Plans to engage with people to raise awareness of community councils and the role they have to play include holding in-person events tailored to individual communities as well as remote sessions.

Elected members will also be asked to use their local knowledge to find key contacts.

And social media will be used to help with promotion and to link with other organisations such as CVS and community groups who might have interested members.

There are also plans to produce a video featuring local community councillors and highlighting success stories.

The intention was originally to put the elections off until spring, but it was felt that this would cause confusion as it is so close to the local government elections in May.

Members agreed that the nomination process should take place after those elections had finished.

The council leader Cecil Meiklejohn said: “I’m very aware that there are swathes of our area that are not covered by community councils.

“I think it would be helpful to encourage people to become involved in the process to give communities a larger stake in decision-making.”