He has written to West Lothian Association of Community Councils to congratulate everyone involved in the launch of their website – http://www.yourcommunitycouncil.co.uk
The portal was launched earlier this year, with information, news and contact details for more than 30 community councils across West Lothian. It has been hailed as a model for similar groups around the country.
In a letter sent to Association chair Helen Taylor, Mr McConnell said: “Community councils are at the heart of local government in Scotland and I know volunteers play a key role in encouraging community engagement and participation. I sincerely appreciate the dedication and goodwill shown by both you and the other volunteers in successfully achieving the launch of the West Lothian community council website.
“Neighbouring community councils sharing information, news and knowledge and encouraging people to interact with their community representatives online are steps towards e-democracy.
“I hope the project continues to build on its success and would like to congratulate you in your efforts to encourage community councils to use this facility.”
The First Minister even provided a special version of his message to publish on the website.
It said: “The fact residents can, with the click of a mouse, access information on community council meeting dates, items of community news, and have the facility to email local councillors, as well as getting information from other useful links, is a great achievement.”
Mr McConnell’s message is just the latest endorsement of the project, which aimed to raise the profile of all the community councils in the district – making them more accessible and accountable to local people.
In June, West Lothian Council leader Graeme Morrice wrote to Ms Taylor to say the site was “exceptionally good”. He also said it could become a “best practice” reference for other community councils in Scotland.
Then last month it was revealed that the web project – which has been backed by leaflets, posters and media relations work – was one of two entries shortlisted in the community category of the PRide Awards in Scotland, the country’s public relations’ Oscars.
Ms Taylor said: “It was very kind of the First Minister to take the time and trouble to send a message of support. Community councils are run by unpaid volunteers to reflect the views of local people to public bodies. I’m sure his endorsement will be a huge boost to all the people who worked so hard to get the website and publicity campaign off the ground.”
The Association of Community Councils was given professional help and support by Bo’ness consultancy firms The PR Store and web partner Oldhand Media. Ms Taylor added: “Both businesses did much of the work for free – or at low cost. This endorsement is as much for them as it is for all our community councillors. They have helped to deliver something which has really put us on the map. Even the First Minister has noticed us!”
WHAT COMMUNITY COUNCILS DO:
Community Councils are run by volunteers from the community.
They work to safeguard and promote their area’s best interests – and represent public opinion to the local authority and other government bodies.
Each community council is regularly asked to comment on a range of issues such as:
* the local environment;
* local planning applications;
* drinks (liquor) licensing;
* local plans;
* decentralisation of public services; and
* community planning.
People in West Lothian can find out more about their community councils or the Association, read news and minutes, and make contact with the groups by logging onto: http://www.yourcommunitycouncil.co.uk. Alternatively they can
NOTE TO EDITORS:
* West Lothian Association of Community Councils, which commissioned the website and publicity campaign, represents more than 30 community councils across West Lothian. One of its key aims is to strengthen the identity of community councils in the area. The Association, like member community councils, is run by volunteers and grant-funded by West Lothian Council.
* The PR Store is a PR and communications business, based in Bo’ness, West Lothian. Find out more at http://www.theprstore.net
* Oldhand Media is a website design and development business based in Bo’ness. Find out more at http://www.oldhandmedia.co.uk
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION
Please contact Adrian Mahoney at The PR Store
on 01506 823714 or 07967 150560
or email: firstname.lastname@example.org