I spent Hogmanay on a newly opened campsite in Tayport – the latest in a growing portfolio of community owned ventures for this small, north Fife town. With a brand new multi-purpose community hub and sports hall, two cafes and an award winning community garden already under its belt, Tayport is the sort of place that Ministers love to namecheck as the very epitome of an enterprising and dynamic community. But in many ways the most notable thing about Tayport’s success is that despite all their work being entirely for the common good, with not a penny extracted for private gain, it has all been achieved with a relatively modest amount of public subsidy. Pause for a moment to consider what could be achieved if the scale of public investment for communities was even close to that which other sectors receive. Prior to Christmas, the Scottish Government relaunched its ‘flagship’ £10m Investing in Communities Fund. With the prospect of three-year funding packages on offer, competition will inevitably be fierce, but £10m? Really? If the rhetoric of communities being at the heart of Scotland’s post-Covid recovery is to mean anything, at the very least, there’s a zero missing from that number.
In the most recent briefing…
It’s now standard practice for the Scottish Government to involve people with lived experience of any specific area of policy or public service which comes under scrutiny. It seems however, that this practice is being rather selectively applied. For months on end, our island communities have had to endure constant disruptions to their ferry services due to problems with CalMac’s ageing fleet. Notwithstanding that it is hard to imagine any such disruption to lifeline services across the central belt being tolerated in this way, calls from ferry users for seats on the board of CalMac are being routinely ignored.
A community group from the Isle of Arran is about to create a whole new class of community asset when they become the proud owners of a 9m catamaran. COAST (Community of Arran Seabed Trust) have become internationally renowned for their conservation and marine restoration work in the seas around Arran and the Clyde. They believe the acquisition of this boat will boost not just their scientific research and citizen science but also their work in connecting with local schools, the wider community and tourists. Great work, COAST and happy sailing!
Conventional thinking has long suggested that when charity shops begin to appear on the high street, it’s a surefire sign that the local economy is in decline. But for some years now there’s been a growing recognition that ‘reuse retail’ has a key role to play in the nation’s journey towards a low carbon future. And the way we talk about it seems to make a difference. Second hand clothes become ‘pre-loved’ or ‘vintage’ and what was once scruffy bric-a-brac is transformed into ‘shabby chic’. As the latest report from Circular Communities Scotland suggests, this sector is becoming big business.
Although Scotland’s landscape is a much prized national asset, when trying to understand exactly why it looks as it does, a much more complex picture is revealed. The forces of nature over millennia have combined with multiple human interventions to produce a landscape that many now argue has become constrained in its potential to deliver the maximum benefit for the country. Fascinating interview with land reform expert, Andy Wightman (filmed in the landscape), in which he explains why the landscape looks as it does and how, if we chose to, it could be transformed.
One country that scores consistently highly by international comparison is Finland. Whether it’s for educational attainment, levels of crime and corruption or policies for tackling child poverty, the Finns seem to be well placed in every respect. A policy that has undoubtedly played a part in this process of continual improvement is an initiative called Experimental Finland – a cultural shift that embraces the idea of experimentation, of making mistakes and learning from them, and adopting a no-blame approach. Compare that to the innate fear of failure and subsequent risk aversion that characterise our systems. Who’s for Experimental Scotland?
When the publicly owned Scottish National Investment Bank put £50m into a privately managed investment fund designed to attract further private investment into 8000 hectares of forestry, concerns were raised on a number of fronts – not least the prospect of Scotland’s land market becoming distorted by investors seeking to profit from the emerging opportunities around carbon capture and incentives to enhance biodiversity. Concern at the appearance of so called ‘green lairds’ has prompted Scottish Land Commission to instigate some important research
The commitment of local people to music and culture led during 1980s to, first, the Glenuig Music Festival, and then the establishment of the Glenuig Community Association. The Association has now delivered the purpose-built Glenuig Hall to house its extensive arts programme and other community’s activities. It’s now branching out into other social enterprises, and using its activities and the income generated to invest in the community’s future.Find out more