International studies show that genuine community engagement and participation leads to the delivery of better, more responsive services and outcomes for people.
Over the past 20 years, Government-supported community development has become increasingly centralised and prescriptive and has served to dilute the say that communities have over developments their local area. International studies show that genuine community engagement and participation leads to the delivery of better, more responsive services and outcomes for people.
In order to redress this imbalance and to equip communities to take charge of their futures and the challenges we face, we propose a new system of Community Councils throughout Ireland.
Under our proposed legislation, local authorities will be required to introduce Community Council schemes for their area, which will be based on existing geographical boundaries incorporating population sizes of 1,000 for rural areas and 8,000 for urban.
The Community Councils will have a range of new and important powers including input into the planning process and how to manage land and buildings in the local area for the common good.
They will be supported by a Trusted Intermediary Body and the new Community Councils will be tasked with advancing the social, economic and environmental fabric of their areas through engagement with: Permaculture; Participatory Budgeting; Social Enterprise; Policy Crowdsourcing; and the Creative Arts.
Community Councils will be included in the consultation process for all planning applications.
They will be able to make requests to their local authorities and public bodies for any land or buildings they feel they could make better use of. They can request ownership, lease or other rights to these lands and buildings. For this purpose, local Authorities must, in concert with Community Councils, establish and maintain a register of property which is held by the authority as part of the common good.
The Councils will be enabled to participate in participatory budgeting at local regional and national levels.
A grant of €10,000 is to be allocated to each community council in year one to cover establishment costs and training by central and local government.
The Trusted Intermediary Body will initially focus on coordinating and facilitating access to funding streams for work by Community Councils in response to the Climate and Biodiversity crises. This will be broadened to incorporate further aspects of sustainable development over time.