ELECTIONS which were delayed last year due to the coronavirus pandemic will take place this autumn.

Community council elections throughout East Lothian were scheduled to take place in 2020 but were pushed back 12 months as a result of Covid-19.

Now, East Lothian Council has confirmed the elections will take place on October 7 this year.

Ralph Averbuch, chairman of Association of East Lothian Community Councils and Pencaitland Community Council, highlighted the importance of the groups.

He said: “Community councils (CCs) play a critical part in local democracy, both working with and holding to account East Lothian Council and its councillors on decisions which affect us all.

“The upcoming autumn elections will give all 20 CCs an opportunity to showcase how that work has evolved to reflect the times we now live in.

“CCs are only as good as their members.

“This is why it’s imperative we encourage new blood into our ranks.

“Young or old, everyone has unique experience and insight they can bring to the role.

“This autumn, all CCs will be aiming to not only enthuse the next generation of community councillors but be ready to answer questions and help make the choice of becoming a champion for their communities an easy one.”

A number of East Lothian’s councillors were members of community councils before being elected as councillors, including Jeremy Findlay, Tom Trotter and Norman Hampshire.

Councillor Jim Goodfellow, East Lothian Council’s spokesman for community wellbeing, was a member of North Berwick Community Council for 12 years before becoming a councillor.

He said: “Being a community councillor can be a very rewarding and fulfilling role and, over many years, our community councils have carried out fantastic work to deliver projects that have benefited local people, including the organisation of events such as firework displays, festivals, gala days and delivered and contributed to a whole range of other projects which have helped others, for example improving the environment.

“Giving East Lothian residents, including those who are new to the county, a strong voice is very important, as well as empowering people to help make things happen and shape policy.

“Representing the views of residents, particularly in response to local development and planning matters, and working with other local organisations including membership of East Lothian’s area partnerships, plays an important role in ensuring local towns and villages are great places in which to live and work.

“It was unfortunate that the elections had to be put on hold due to the pandemic, but I’m very pleased that we will be moving forward with the process in October.

“Nominations can be made between the end of August and the middle of September and I would encourage as many people as possible with an interest in making a difference in their community to consider putting themselves forward.

“Depending on the number of candidates, elections will then take place by postal vote in October.”

Meanwhile, following consultation with the Association of East Lothian Community Councils, an update to the Scheme for the Establishment of Community Councils (known as ‘The Green Book’) has been approved to reflect the shift to digital operating formats, online meetings and communication methods.

It has also been agreed that a handbook with further supplementary guidance for community councils on matters such as a code of conduct for community councillors, procedure for casual vacancies and managing complaints, will be produced prior to October’s elections.