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January 14, 2015

Good use of common good

Scotland’s Common Good has a long history stretching back some 500 years and in part this explains why there is such confusion and uncertainty about who has a claim on these ancient assets and whether local communities should be able to enjoy more direct benefit. The forthcoming Community Empowerment Bill makes some progress in this respect and the proposed Land Reform Bill promises even more. In the meantime, some communities are just getting on with putting their Common Good to good use.


City Strolls

To view the website The Farmhouse Project click here

About the Common Good

In Scotland the common good is 500 years old. It represents the generosity of probably millions of  people, is writ large through our culture, is something everyone, rich, poor, old, young, black, white, stranger, neighbour, can share in. The common good is proof of the friendliness and open armed welcoming nature of our people. A human nature we want to encourage, not lose.

The fund is made up of public owned assets worth tens of millions of pounds in different places all over the country and has laws in place to protect it. The fund is unique to Scotland, consisting of art galleries, libraries, nurseries, buildings, land, parks, and movable assets, such as artwork, furniture jewellery, robes of office, gifts to the city, library collections, as well as things ordinary people have gifted to the Common Good.

Over the years many of these assets have disappeared, been forgotten about, lost, misappropriated and stolen,particularly many of the movable assets. It is the responsibility (duty) of councils around the country to provide stewardship of our Common Good Fund, in perpetuity so that future generations can enjoy its benefits as have past generations. The importance of this fund goes well past the substantial, financial and physical assets. The Common Good is an integral part of our history. It also has to be considered. If ordinary people do not have the commons, what do they have?

The biggest problem has been the lack of public awareness that the fund even exists. Some councils are, rather than encouraging public interest, beginning to see our commons as cheap land for building, and business developments. Private bills are being taken out to circumvent common good law and to build on parks. Schools, hospitals, housing, are being built on public parks. Councils are beginning to offer package park space to business for development. The Common Good at its roots began by small groups of people taking a collectivist approach to looking after what they shared. Today the same approach is needed as councils renege on their responsibility in protecting our common land and assets.

 If we do not use it, we lose it. But first we need to know. What it is, where it is, and to take back control of it. What we are proposing is. Why can’t the stewardship of these funds be administered by a more responsible and accountable administration.

Why can’t these funds be used to build a civic network across whole the country? Many of the problems in small villages up north are much the same as those of the inner cities. Why can’t these assets be used by young people to encourage responsibility in ensuring the longevity of these assets that my generation and generations before have enjoyed all of their lives?

About the Farmhouse

The farmhouse is an old building that sits in the community garden. The structure forms part of the community’s Common Good Fund, as does the park it sits in. The building has lain derelict for many years and is in a bad state of repair. We want to rebuild it as an independent community resource and include as many of the community in the task as possible.

The project will work as a learning tool and involve the community in the planning, the building and through this process inform how the place could function, what it could be used for and how it could best represent the community.

To find out more, or better still come and join us click here