SB Connect Winter 2016

New Act gives more power to community groups

The Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act 2015 is a new piece of legislation that gives communities the power to have more influence over what matters to them.

The new Act enables communities to be more involved in improving public services and gives community groups the right to own land.

Most of the Act is expected to come in to force by the end of 2016.

Shona Smith, SBC’s Communities and Partnership Manager, said:

“The Act means that communities will have more say on public services and how they are planned and delivered.

“The Council hopes that community groups will take the opportunities the Act provides to become more involved in SBC’s work and that it encourages people to participate more and empower our communities
to make a real contribution to the things that are important to them.”

There are 11 parts of the Act, including:

  • Community Planning, the Scottish Government expects Community Planning Partners to work together and with communities to improve local services. Members of the Scottish Borders Community Planning Partnership include the Council, NHS Borders, Police Scotland, Scottish Fire & Rescue Service and Scottish Enterprise.
  • Participation requests, this part of the Act gives community groups the right to ask to be involved with local public authorities e.g. the Council, Police or NHS, to improve services.
  • Asset transfer gives certain types of community groups the right to request to buy, or rent, any land or buildings that are owned or leased by specific public authorities. Scottish Borders Council has already sold or leased a number of properties and encourages local groups to come forward with their ideas.

More information, including frequently asked questions, is available at www.scotborders.gov.uk/communityempowerment or by contacting communityengagement@scotborders.gov.uk or 01835 826626. Informal enquiries are welcomed.