All the nominations are in for a new set of community councillors across the Highlands. This tireless army of volunteers represents residents across our towns and villages, providing a strong voice for local community interests. Most meet on a monthly basis to discuss a wide range of issues affecting their neighbourhood, including planning issues and the delivery of services by Highland Council. As a councillor representing an area with a network of twelve community councils, I get to see the work they undertake, which often goes unnoticed. From challenging inappropriate planning applications to lobbying for proper out-of-hours medical cover, they make a real difference. For example, in Kinlochleven councillors worked with the local community trust to take over ownership of the public toilets, which the Highland Council closed and abandoned. They make a financial contribution every year to make sure those toilets are open, operated by the community for the benefit of residents and visitors. Another example is the five community councils on the Ardnamurchan peninsula who worked together to campaign against unfair fare charges on the Corran Ferry. Without their support, Lochaber councillors would have been in a much weaker position in arguing the case in Inverness, and Highland Council would have pushed ahead with fare rise after fare rise. There are dozens of examples like this across Lochaber.
Above all, they keep Highland councillors on their toes by highlighting important local issues. That’s why, I am delighted to see nearly all the communities in my ward have enough nominations to form new community councils. You can find out who will be representing your area here. It’s disappointing that there were not enough nominations in Ardgour, Kinlochleven and Morvern, so their community councils will go into abeyance for the time being. Residents in those areas will have another chance to put their names forward in January, I hope residents will be able to volunteer then. If you live in Duror or Kentallen, because there were more nominations than places available, you will have a chance to choose your community councillors through an all-postal ballot, with voting papers sent out in the next few weeks. The candidates you can choose from are available here.