North Edinburgh now has four community councils, Muirhouse/Salvesen, West Pilton/West Granton, Royston Wardieburn and Drylaw/Telford.
Drylaw/Telford community council has been active for 25 years since it has been founded in 1981, and according to secretary Dave Pickering its biggest and most successful campaign has been the recent Open Spaces consultation, which gave the community the opportunity to decide on possible housing developments, retention and upgrade of green spaces.
The first community councils were established in Edinburgh in 1980 at Longstone and Merchiston. Now there are 39 out of 44 possible community councils in the city and over 400 community council representatives. Meetings are usually held monthly; members of the public are welcome to attend.
An introduction session to the purpose, organisation and possible influence of the community councils was organised by the Pilton Partnership on Saturday, 4th of March at the Prentice Centre. The main advantage of a community council was defined as the possibility of the local people to set their own agenda, have influence in the decision-making process and initiate politics from the bottom to the top.
The main disadvantage identified, was the quite narrow range of issues on which the community council has actually a right to decide which is mostly limited by law to objecting to planning permissions.
Other potential difficulties, which might occur, are a possible lack of consultation with the community, a lack of accountability, and inclusion of young people.
The Pilton Partnership was starring in their self-made comedy video of the Albert Square Community Council, in which they exaggerated all potential pitfalls of such a group of local volunteers.
In the following discussions, the very important aspects of cross community council communication was raised, issues like Pennywell Road would need to be decided by two community councils, as it is also an area border.
The meeting was very successful in promoting community councils and encouraging nominations for the voluntary posts, the afternoon ended with case studies and questions and answers.
More general information about community councils is available from the Community Council Liaison Officer of the Edinburgh Council on 0131 4693838, email: community.councils [at] edinburgh.gov.uk or the website http://www.edinburgh.gov.uk/communitycouncils .
Information about our community councils in North Edinburgh can usually be obtained from the secretaries,
Dave Pickering is secretary of the Drylaw/Telford Community Council and can be contacted under 0131 3433741, or Dave.pickering [at] btinternet.com . Ken Smith is interim secretary of the Royston/Wardieburn Community Council and can be contacted under 07757084976 or Mudskipper77 [at] hotmail.com. Alistair Burnett is interim secretary of West Pilton/West Granton and is contactable under 07757084976.