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The Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act 2015 gives communities additional rights, through having more say in how public services are planned and provided; owning or leasing land, assets and estates; and becoming involved in improving the outcomes of services.

Part 3 of the Act allows for community groups to submit Participation Requests.  PRs are a way for community groups to get involved in how the Council and other public services are planned and delivered. A participation request can be made to:

  • Help community groups to start a dialogue about something that matters to their community.
  • It will help your group to have your voice heard in policy and service development through contributing to decision-making processes.
  • It will help your group to participate in the design, delivery, monitoring or review of service provision, through contributing to service change or improvement.
  • It will help your group to challenge Council decisions and seek support for alternatives which improve the community.

Participation Requests are intended to help community groups to highlight community needs and issues and become involved in change or improvement. They are not intended to replace good quality community engagement or participation processes but are rather designed to complement and enhance them. Participation Requests are not intended to be an extension of the Councils complaints procedures but should be viewed as an opportunity for communities to establish formal dialogue with the Council and its partners.

The Act identifies the ‘Public Service Authorities’ that requests can be made to. These are public bodies which receive public funding.  In West Dunbartonshire, these public bodies are:

  • West Dunbartonshire Council
  • NHS Glasgow
  • West College Scotland
  • Scottish Enterprise
  • Police Scotland
  • Scottish Fire & Rescue Service
  • Scottish Natural Heritage
  • Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA)

Note: each ‘Public Service Authority’ will have their own Participation Request form which should be available on their websites.  Scottish Minister may add to the designated list of Public Bodies in the future.

How do I make a participation request?

Our process has been developed in consultation with community groups and West Dunbartonshire’s partner organisations to ensure that it is as accessible as possible. The guidance will support any community group to complete and submit a Participation Request form.

Before submitting a Participation Request we strongly suggest that your community group considers discussing the proposal or issue with West Dunbartonshire Council officers or elected councillors.  This will allow your groups to make sure that you have exhausted all ways of communicating with the council in advance of submitting a PR.  It will also ensure that:

  • You are directing your enquiry to the right public body.
  • You have considered a joint application if other groups are involved or are experiencing the same issue.
  • You have identified any support needs that your community group might require in advance of completing a ‘Participation Request’ or filling in the form.

Please direct any questions about the Participation Requests or available support to the Council’s Communities Team:

Email: empowerment@west-dunbarton.gov.uk

What kind of things can you make participation requests about?

Participation requests can lead to discussions about any aspect of a service. This could range from issues to do with service delivery such as home-care visits to more strategic issues to do with how services are planned and funded.

When a group makes a participation request they have to identify an outcome to be improved. Outcomes are the changes that services aim to bring about, such as improved health and wellbeing, or reduced child poverty. The outcome has to be relevant to the public service authority that you are making the participation request to.  Section 5 & 6 below will provide more information about outcomes and gives some relevant examples. 

WDC will provide support to help community groups to make the most of Participation Requests.  This support is available before the formal participation request process as well as during it.  The types of support that may be needed include the following:

  • Administrative or practical support – e.g. photocopying, printing, access to internet/wi-fi, venues, equipment.
  • Support for equal participation – e.g. translated materials, interpreters, childcare, accessible venues, transport.
  • Connecting and linking – e.g. signposting to relevant organisations and sources of support.
  • Organisational support – e.g. assistance for groups to organise in appropriate ways for their purposes.
  • Community development support – e.g. assistance with understanding the scope and possible purposes of participation requests, engaging with their wider community, and planning their involvement in the participation request and outcome improvement processes.