I was recently asked to consider standing in the upcoming election for my local community council (Cwmbran Community Council) and it really hit me, that I have absolutely no idea what it is that community councils do, so a little research later, here we are.
Community and town councils can make a significant contribution to the
localities that they serve. Community councils can provide facilities and support initiatives to respond to local needs, can organise and promote community events and can advocate and represent community interests. They work well within the structures of existing borough councils because due to their large nature, borough councils would have to take to broad a view in their decisions, whereas community councils have that local knowledge to know what needs to be done.
Community and town councils provide amenities that directly enhance the quality of life and visual appearance of Welsh communities – from floral displays to bus shelters and
Christmas lights. They played the leading role in organizing events to mark the Millennium and the Queen’s Golden Jubilee, and are a vital source of funding for local community groups, sports clubs and charities, investing around £1 million in the
voluntary sector across Wales each year. A former colleague of mine who serves on a community council in The Vale of Glamorgan once described community councillors as the lords of small matters, because they were often dealing with things such as where to put litter bins, getting street signs moved, having bus stops cleaned and deciding how much money should go to the grandmothers choir and baroque ensemble. It does sound trivial, but you would soon notice if public bins were overflowing, streetlights weren’t working and bus stops smelled like urine.
Possibly the most important thing they do (at least from my point of view) is organise community events, anything from local village fairs and choir battles, to school plays, family fun days, outdoor cinemas and full on music festivals, community councils are the backbone for these events, the councillors and officers are the ones that give the funding and put in the hours to make sure their community is a better place live, work and play.