Listed below are frequently asked questions about community councils, including how you can get involved in their work.
What is the difference between community councils and county councils?
County councils (also known as local authorities) have a legal responsibility to provide services such as education, environmental health, social services and country planning for their whole county.
Community councils represent individual communities or towns within a county. They have legal powers to deliver some services, but fewer duties. Community councils work closely with the county council in the area, representing the interests of their communities.
County councils and community councils must work in partnership, to ensure the best services and outcomes for citizens. This may mean that county councils allocate funds to community councils to enable them to deliver a service at a local level. Charter agreements can provide a very good means of underpinning the relationship between county councils and community councils.
What powers to community councils have?
Community councils have the scope to deliver many services, depending on the size of the community they represent and their budget. Examples of services provided by community and own councils include:
- public information signs and noticeboards
- public seating and bus shelters
- war memorials
- community centres and indoor recreation facilities
Community councils work closely with the county council in the area, representing the interests of their communities. They can also work in partnership with other organisations (including other community or town councils in the area) to deliver services. By offering support, including funding, equipment or premises, community councils can also help others bodies to provide services, such as child care, services for the elderly, environmental initiatives and arts and sports activities.
The Good Councillor’s Guide 2012, available under Related Links on the right, gives more detail about the powers available to community councils.
Who can become a community or town councillor?
To become a community councillor, you must be over 18 and a British national or qualifying citizen of the Commonwealth or European Union.
Community council seats are awarded either through election or by co-option. Co-option is when the council chooses from a list of volunteers if there are not enough candidates at election time or the electorate does not call for an election when a seat falls vacant.
Community councillors can represent a political party or be politically independent.
I’m under 18 – how can I contribute?
Community councils have a duty to consider the views of everyone in their community, including young people. A law, the Local Government (Wales) Measure 2011 ss.118-121, gives community councils the power to appoint up to two youth representatives (aged 16 to 25) to join the council to represent the interests of young people who live, work or receive education or training in the area. Some councils have set up a youth council, or committee of young people, to listen to young people’s views. If your council does not have youth representatives or a youth council or committee, you can write to them to ask that they consider these options, or even raise it in a council meeting, if your council allows this.
You can also contact your community council to express your views on a subject, and take part in consultation exercises run by the council.
How can I tell my community council my views?
Community councils have a duty to consider the views of everyone in their community, and should seek the views of both electors and those who cannot vote, such as young people.
To do this, your council may run a variety of consultation exercises throughout the year, in which you can give your view on a particular matter or in general about the community. The council may also call a meeting of the community, at which electors can discuss the work of the council and what is going on in the area. Such a meeting can also be called by the electorate itself, if 10% or 50 electors, whichever is fewer, ask for one.
Meetings of the council are open to the public, except when very sensitive matters are being discussed. The Welsh Government encourages community councils to invite public participation and some have a dedicated time in council meetings in which members of the public can express their views or ask questions.
You can also write to your community council at any time or email, if your council has this facility. If you cannot find contact information for your community council, your county council can help you.
From here, you can access more detailed information, in publications about community councils and their work, and guidance for community councillors, as well as the latest information about relevant legislation and consultations.
Where can I find out about Welsh legislation?
You can find copies of Acts, Bills and Measures, as well as subordinate legislation, on the National Assembly for Wales website (external link), along with agendas and transcripts of committee and plenary meetings in which the legislation was discussed.