‘Community councils’ concept investigated

A proposal to boost the involvement of residents in local decision making through the possible introduction of 'community councils', is being investigated by Leeds City Council.

This follows a move to identify new ways in which residents across the city can become more engaged in the democratic process and decisions that are taken by the council and specifically those of the current area committees.

Currently, 10 area committees are responsible for a range of work and important services that are undertaken in neighbourhoods across the city. As part of their role, the committees set out detailed improvement plans for the areas they represent, and decide through a monitored service level agreement, where both street cleansing and environmental action should be targeted.

The management and budgets of community centres are also undertaken by the area committees, while funding is also provided to agencies, groups and organisations in order to support a range of important projects being delivered in communities.

If given the go-ahead, the aim of the 'community councils', would be raise greater awareness of funding which is available to support local projects and to encourage greater input from residents in order to better influence the priorities and objectives that are set out by local councillors for the areas where they live.

As part of this research, a possible framework on 'community councils', the functions it might perform and how residents can become more involved , are set to be examined. Included in this process, will be the opportunity for both councillors and local communities to offer their thoughts on how best this might be achieved.

Proposals for 'community councils' are set to be outlined in early 2014, and if given the go-ahead, are expected to commence at the start of the 2014/15 municipal year. This idea forms part of an Area Committee Annual Report which was approved at a full meeting of council in September.

Councillor Peter Gruen, Leeds City Council's executive board member with responsibility for neighbourhoods, planning and support services said:

"As part of our work, we will be asking residents how they think communities can have a bigger influence in the priorities and key decisions that are prioritised and taken by our area committees in the areas where they live.

"At the moment, awareness of the good work area committees are involved in, and the responsibilities they have in the delivery of key council services and the distribution of grants to valuable local projects is not at the level it should be in our communities and this has to change.

"With this in mind, we have taken the decision to investigate further the idea of 'community councils', and while this concept is currently still at its very early stages, we are hoping to have some firm proposals set out by early next year for discussion with communities across the city."

For media enquiries, please contact;

Colin Dickinson, Leeds City Council press office (0113) 39 51578

Email: colin.dickinson@leeds.gov.uk