Midlothian Council – Improving local democracy and community councils

Name: Midlothian Council
Category: Social
Location: Midlothian, Scotland
Project summary: We are looking for an enthusiastic and skilled undergraduate or postgraduate student to undertake a dissertation in Midlothian. The dissertation will focus on local democracy and how local groups can most effectively communicate with, influence and inform the design and delivery of public services. The dissertation will have a field-based element and the student will be supported to engage with communities and public services in Midlothian. This would suit any student that has a keen interest in local democracy, the Community Empowerment Act and widening participation. There will be an opportunity for the student to refine and shape the project.
Detailed summary: Midlothian had an estimated population of 87,930 in 2015 and is projected to continue to grow steadily. The growth in population increases the demands on public services and difficult decisions about the allocation of resources need to be made. The introduction of the Community Empowerment Act signals a move towards communities having greater control and influence over public services and assets.Community councils were introduced through the Local Government (Scotland) Act 1973 to provide the most local form of democracy but are they equipped to take on these increasing demands? Midlothian is covered by 16 community councils, covering a mixture of small rural villages and large towns, who are all working to identify the needs and aspirations of their communities through an informed local context and to take decisions that will lead to appropriate action in the community.As community councils struggle, at times, to get new members involved what can be done to ensure the voice of the wider community can be heard? What can be done to involve young people and how can public bodies engage more creatively with community members? Increasing digital access, improving dialogue with decision makers, providing additional support might all help improve community councils. The student would be asked to review good practice in Scotland and liaise directly with community councils and staff in Midlothian to develop an approach for maximising their impact.
Number of students partnered with: 1
Current status: Available to partner with

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