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Community Councils

Volume 300: debated on Thursday 13 November 1997

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To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland (1) what plans he has to encourage local authorities to increase the level of grant to community councils; [15440](2) what has been the level of funding for the Association of Scottish Community Councils for the years 1993 to 1997; what is the projected funding for the year 1997–98; and how many community councils in Scotland are members of the association; [15439](3) what plans he has to encourage the provision of training for community councillors, with special reference to planning and licensing issues. [15441]

Level of grant and other assistance to individual community councils is a matter for local authorities' discretion under Section 55 of the Local Government (Scotland) Act 1973. While the Government recognise the value of effective, adequately resourced community councils, they also recognise that local authorities have many competing calls on their available resources and are accountable to their local electorate for their decisions on spending. My right hon. Friend therefore has no plans to intervene in local authorities' consideration of spending priorities involving community councils.At a national level, the Scottish Office first awarded grant to the Association of Scottish Community Councils in 1996–97, to the sum of £36,000. Grant proposed for 1997–98 is £37,000. The purpose of the grant is to help the Association develop staff support, run a national office base, and produce a quarterly newsletter. Grant was initially envisaged for three years; grant each year depends on the association meeting relevant targets agreed with the Scottish Office. I understand that 470 community councils are members of the association, although its newsletter is sent to member and non-member community councils alike.I understand that training is one of the services that the association aims to facilitate. Local authorities also have the discretion to provide training services to community councils under Section 55 of the 1973 Act. In addition, the Scottish Office has granted £27,000 to Planning Aid Scotland over the last three years to train community councillors.