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Councils in face-off as change to set-up disputed

TWO community councils face being stripped of their funding and powers if a stand-off with a local authority is not resolved by midnight tonight.

East Renfrewshire Council said last month that three community councils, which are intended to bridge the gap between local authorities and communities, had broken the rules by attempting to change their constitutions and introduce measures that the authority considered "undemocratic".

They included the ability to hold parts of meetings in private and imposing a minimum period of service before community councillors can become office bearers.

While Thornliebank Community Council has agreed to revert to its original constitution, Newton Mearns and Clarkston have not.

East Renfrewshire Council said it was "still awaiting minutes and newly signed constitutions prior to confirming the position of both community councils" yesterday.

Representatives of both of the grassroots organisations indicated that an agreement was highly unlikely. Should they refuse to back down, East Renfrewshire Council will not recognise them as statutory community councils.

It means that the organisations would lose their funding, council engagement and support, free use of council premises and the right to consult on planning licensing and education.

David Jesner, chairman of Newton Mearns Community Council, insisted his organisation had done nothing wrong in seeking to change its constitution and threatened to mount a court challenge if sanctions were imposed.

"Our grant is £700 a year, to cover 8000 houses in our area," he said, "When we've needed money we've raised it ourselves. When this became public knowledge we were offered £2300 in donations to replace it. We've had offers from local establishments to run our meetings. In the summer I don't know that we wouldn't have them in the open air with a PA system.

"It's very clear in our own minds that they want rid of the community councils."

Contextual targeting label: 
Local government

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