It is important to realise Community Councils are separate, independent organisations and are not part of the Local Authority. As such, not all Council policies or procedures will apply to them. This is particularly relevant when making a complaint, either to a Community Council or about a Community Council or Councillor.
If a complaint is about the Local Authority, The Highland Council has a complaints process which is summarised online and explains how to make various types of complaint, including complaints about Local Authority councillors which are referred to the Ethical Standards Commissioner. The Commissioner does not, however, consider complaints about Community Councils.
Community Council Complaints
If you have a complaint about any aspect of a Community Council, how it conducts its business, conduct of meetings etc. then your first action should be to contact the Community Council direct to raise your concern/s and ask for them to be addressed.
There is a standard complaint handling process in place for all Community Councils across Highland. Complaints should be made in writing outlining your complaint – this can be by letter or email to the Secretary or Chair of the Community Council. The Community Council should acknowledge receipt of your complaint and outline how, when and where it will be considered. Once the Community Council has considered your complaint and responded to you, should you remain dissatisfied with the outcome, you may then raise the issue with The Highland Council (find your Ward Manager) who will then consider whether to review the matter and/or provide support and guidance to the complainant and the Community Council. However, you should be aware that Community Councils are independent bodies set up under statute and are not controlled by The Highland Council.
Guidance for Community Councils
It is important that Community Councils have an agreed process in place to deal with any complaints made, as required in the current Scheme for Establishment of Community Councils. Our Community Council Complaints Handling Process provides guidance for Community Councils with regards to complaints.
Any complaint should be investigated with reference to the Scheme for the Establishment of Community Councils.
The scheme comprises separate key documents that govern the operation of Community Councils:
- Constitution – outlines the role, responsibility and membership of the Community Council.
- Standing Orders – the detailed mechanics and procedures for running the Community Council - meetings, minutes, etc.
- Code of Conduct – offers guidance on how individual Community Councillors should conduct themselves.
If the complaint falls out-with the terms of these documents, the complainant should be informed that there is no complaint for the Community Council to answer.
Community councils may also find the following guidance documents helpful: