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As a keen student of my PC's affairs my greatest concern is the Council’s ability to raise taxes through the precept for any projects, power, or duty without any superior/independent  scrutiny.  This in my opinion often leads to money being spent without due regard to what I would call normal business/project management principles which would give an indication as to VFM. This is borne out of the current system which elects Councillors as our representatives not delegates. In effect they are untouchable.

It does seem however that an alternative exists called Community Councils which inter alia as I understand it allow for a signing off of the annual budget by say a local panel allowing the Council to administer things year round. Such Councils do, however, seem to be much more prevalent in Scotland and Wales and less so in England.

Does anyone have any experience as to the workings of Community Councils and their advantages and disadvantages?

by (4.6k points)
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2 Answers

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I think you are working to a flawed understanding here and what you seek wouldn't be achieved by a Community Council.  In England, Parish Councils. Town Councils and Community Councils are almost identical in terms of powers and their governance  processes. Often, a newly created  Parish Council  will resolve to re name itself as a Town Council.  A Parish or Town Council could equally decide to call itself a Community Council without any change in its powers and their governance  processes.  It is very similar in Wales.

In Scotland, Community Councils are voluntary organisations set up by statute and run by local residents to act on behalf of their area. According to the Scottish Government they are intended to bridge the gap between local authorities and communities, and help to make public bodies aware of the opinions and needs of the communities they represent .

by (34.6k points)
0 votes
An interesting question. What does your councils standing orders and financial regs say about large projects. Our council requires 3 quotations or goes through a tendering process depending on the project.
The idea of some sort of project management is a good idea for large projects. In the distant past our council built a community hall with a loan from the Public Works Loan Board. We even employed a professional project manager. However, this turned to tears, as they made a hash of it - and only thanks to the builder, who was absolutely brilliant at sorting out the cockups, that the project came in on time, if not quite on budget. Was it value for money - absolutely, but hiring professionals is not withouts its risks as well. I have seen something similar in another council too.

As to oversight, there is the annual audit process that every council has to submit too. Our auditor is very hot on the processes and record keeping, and makes specific recommendations on how we prepare to spend money on any given project.

I am also tempted to ask - if your are so concerned with your council - did you not consider standing at the recent election? Of course you may have valid reasons for not doing so - but it is often the best way of trying to have some small influence on the process, imho.
by (5.2k points)
When I worked if I spent money on projects they had to generate savings. They were properly managed (project management is really common sense) and had to have some sort of measurement so as to measure the improvement.  However many PC projects are carried out as they seem a good idea at the time.  Recently we had a village survey and the perception was that there was excessive speeding and a feeling of being unsafe on the main road.  In practice the average speed turned out to be less than 25 mph in a 30 mph limit and no records of any accidents. So the PC have spent £30k on introducing 20 mph area with a predicted 2 mph reduction in average speed. To me that doesn't represent VFM yet the PC will say they are just reacting to perceptions. The present system allows this. Nowhere is there a "would you spend it if it was your money" consideration . Rant over
PS A study of the model Financial Regs appears to indicate a requirement to get the best price (VFM) once a decision has been made to spend money. But nowhere can I find any requirement to apply any such principles to the project itself. There should surely be a justification process?

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