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May 3, 2017

Solution to dereliction

The Community Empowerment Act has many components to it and there is a serious discussion to be had with Scottish Government about how these opportunities are to be promoted and indeed how they all connect to the many other bits of related legislation and policy. SCDC have produced an excellent and easy to read summary of the Act. A new piece of research by Common Weal looks at how the Act could support communities to redevelop the many derelict sites that blight some of the most disadvantaged parts of Glasgow.


Nan Spowart, The National

A POVERTY-STRICKEN part of Glasgow could be transformed by a community takeover of derelict sites, according to a report.

The new study by the Common Weal think tank argues that the local economy of Glasgow north-east could be rebuilt if the many derelict sites were used by the community.

The findings, released ahead of this week’s local elections, are based on an analysis of the area which identified 40 derelict sites that could be utilised under the Scottish Government’s Community Empowerment Act for the good of the local community and economy.

The report, Mapping economic potential in north-east Glasgow, advocates asset based community development (ABCD) as a new regeneration strategy for the area.

“ABCD is the theory of utilising a community’s skills and strengths including those not traditionally included in conventional economic analysis to empower and motivate the community to build a better, more prosperous environment,” said the report’s author Mhairi Love, an economics student and parliamentary assistant from Glasgow.

“Communities are not problems that can be fixed within a specific time frame; and equally, lasting change is not something which can be ‘done’ to people.

“This means of achieving change advocates a proactive, citizen-led approach, as opposed to citizens being passive recipients of policies which have led to gentrification, unaffordable housing and unsustainable models of employment such as low wage jobs in large retail outlets.”

The report cites examples of community projects that have used the Community Empowerment Act to good effect in the area, including the Barmulloch Community Development Company’s community buyout of a disused church hall which now has community facilities and holds regular welfare advice clinics and classes for women who have been victims of trauma. It also hosts community engagement processes as well as fun family events like C in the Park, their annual community festival.

“Barmulloch Community Development Company started from nothing and was led by the community in establishing itself as an institution providing services for everyone in the area to enjoy,” said Love.

Other examples include Young People’s Futures in Possilpark which has built a job club and a community centre, and MsMissMrs, a social enterprise that started in Balgrayhill Community Centre making superhero-style underwear called “empowerment pants”, which reinvests profits into running “self-empowerment” programmes for girls and women to encourage them to fulfill their potential “Two problems that Glasgow faces are poor use of derelict land in parts of the city and also poor levels of economic development in parts of the city,” said Robin McAlpine, director of Common Weal.

“The fact that these two problems tend to occur in the same places should be showing us the way forward, because if the city is more imaginative it could see that each of these helps to solve the other. Give people access to the land resources which help them to regenerate their communities. Surely that just makes common sense?”

Anne McLaughlin, the MP for Glasgow North East, has been an advocate of urban land reform since elected and helped write the report.

She said: “The Scottish Government has put in place the legislation and the funding for communities to take control of neglected land and buildings.

“My team offers practical help, for example, by training them to access funding. I am saying to the people of north-east Glasgow, have confidence in yourselves, you are the assets here and it’s time you were recognised.”