Community is ready to raise its voice

Stornoway's five-strong Community Council are Susanne Erbida, Melinda Gillen, Joan Muir, Jane Hepburn MacMillan (supported by her gorgeous daughter Florence) and Katie Laing.  Photo by Sandie Maciver of SandiePhotos
Stornoway's five-strong Community Council are Susanne Erbida, Melinda Gillen, Joan Muir, Jane Hepburn MacMillan (supported by her gorgeous daughter Florence) and Katie Laing. Photo by Sandie Maciver of SandiePhotos

Stornoway boasts many facilities, groups and assets, but for at least 18 years the town has been without a Community Council of its own - until last week.

The nomination process for this first rung on the political ladder - which brings politics into our own neighbourhoods - closed on September 17th, with the establishment of 19 new Community Councils across the Islands.

For Stornoway that meant its first Community Council since before 2001 and this particular Community Council is also stand-out, as it is the only one of the 19 established, with an all-female line-up.

With the spotlight turned on encouraging women to engage in the political process - particularly at local level - this fact is an important one and should be applauded.

Stornoway’s new Community Council, brings together people with a diverse line-up of skills and is made up of members: Joan Muir (Local Delivery Relationship Lead at Social Security Scotland); Katie Laing (Journalist); Melinda Gillen (Stornoway Gazette Editor); Jane Hepburn MacMillan (Musician and Content Creation Officer for the Harris Tweed Authority) and Susanne Erbida (Company Secretarial).

Talking about why she decided to get involved in the Stornoway Community Council, Susanne Erbida, said: “It was about being the change you want to see. My aim is to help our community at a grassroots level, as well as inspiring more women to come into politics.”

However, Stornoway’s Community Council may not remain exclusively female for long.

A further round of nominations for the Islands’ Community Council areas is to take place in October to encourage other residents to turn up the voice of their community.

In the first round of nominations 11 Island areas failed to get the minimum of four nominations required to set up a Community Council and it is hoped that another round will encourage more residents to take part in this most local tier of representation.

Of the 19 already established Community Councils, they may also grow by several more members - up to a maximum of 12.

A Community Council is a voluntary organisation set up by statute by the Local Authority for the region and is run by residents to act on behalf of their area.

In the Western Isles there are 30 Community Council areas.

These bodies do an important job in bridging the gap between Local Authorities and communities.

They advise, petition, influence and advocate numerous causes and cases of concern on behalf of local communities, including driving forward projects to enhance the area, issue newsletters; conduct surveys; campaign on issues and organise events.

NEW Community Councils

Aridhantuim: Murdo Smith; Zoe Brown; Donnie Macdonald; Murdo Nicholson; Kenneth Graham

Back: Andrew Morrison; Catherine MacInnes; Margaret-Ann Maciver; Sara Maciver

Bernera: Kevin Long; Susan Long; Catherine Ruth Macleod; Virginia Jane Allum

Breasclete: Christina Murray; Angus Smith; Angus MacKenzie; Kenneth John MacLennan; Noreen MacDonald; John Smith

Kinloch: Colin John Brand; Iain M. Maciver; Sandra Macdonald; Peter MacLennan; Kenneth Roderick Mackay

North Lochs: Ian E. MacAskill; Margaret Smith; Robert MacKenzie; Sarah McIver; Sarah Macdonald; William Bruce Mackenzie; Annabel Margaret Mackay; Joanne Mitchell

Point: Christopher T Mackenzie; Donald Macritchie; Norman MacLeod; Angusina (Zena) Stewart; Alexander John Murray; Angus Lamont

Shawbost: Ian McCulloch; Roderick Morrison; Kathleen Macrae; Marion Mackay; Eddie Hallahan; Joan Mackay; Euan Donald Macleod; Donald Smith; Donald MacDonald; Kerri Smith

Stornoway: Joan Muir; Katie Laing; Melinda Gillen; Jane Hepburn MacMillan; Susanne Erbida

Tong: Josephine M Mansfield-Townsend; Hazel Mansfield; Julie McLeman; Norman Morrison

Uig: Winifred Christine Greer; Graham Attrill; Lois G. Darley; Christine Mackenzie; Catriona Maclean

North Harris: Karen Macdonald; Catherine Macdonald; John Macleod; Robert Mackinnon; Diana Maclennan; Mary M. Macleod; Agnes Morrison

South Harris: Alan Angus Ross; Kenneth Macleod; John R Maclean; Kathryn P Campbell; Effie Macleod; Caroline Emma Chaffer; Marion Morrison; Stephen Alexander Mackinnon

Berneray: Ian F Hoyle; Malcolm John Gibson; Donald Maclean; Eilidh Carr; Emily Hicks

Bornish: Murdoch MacRury; Donald John Macdonald; Joan MacInnes; Catherine MacDonald; Marie Campbell

Iochdar: Angela Brass; Peter Bird; Morag A Macaulay; Ronald MacPhee; Anne Bird; Maria McGoldrick; Neil Macpherson; Donald J Steele; Neil Johnstone

North Uist: John Macdonald; Sarah Macdonald; Joan Ferguson; Effie Rodger; Donald Angus MacLennan; Donald Ewan Morrison; Raghnall MacIain

Castlebay and Vatersay: Jonathan MacNeil; Paul McGuire; Brian Currie; Iain MacNeil; Kenneth Maclean; Catriona Denehy; Alastair Campbell

Northbay: Theresa Irving; Neil MacLennan; Michael A Macleod; Iain Dewar; Isa Maclean