At the beginning of lockdown, when there was a real urgency to get resources to the front line, a hitherto largely untried approach was adopted – those community organisations who stood ready and willing to help, were simply to be trusted to get on with it. Scottish Government seemed to acknowledge that organisations closest to the ground were best placed to determine what needed to be done. The effect of feeling genuinely trusted, along with this new found freedom to design and deliver whatever services were thought necessary was, by common consent, one of the big pluses of the pandemic response. For a while that elusive state of affairs – localism – flourished. Building back better, we were told, would mean building on this experience. Unfortunately, but perhaps predictably, that message never reached the architects of the proposed new National Care Service who have applied a very simple solution to every problem they envisaged – place everything under the command and control of Ministers. COSLA’s response was furious, calling it an attack on localism. Our councils are far too large and remote from their communities to be considered an expression of localism, but nonetheless they could be eviscerated by these plans. This could get messy.
In the most recent briefing…
As with so many aspects of our lives, global ‘just in time’ supply chains have come to dominate our food systems. The increasing number of half empty shelves in supermarkets may be a reflection of the system’s inherent vulnerability to shocks such as Brexit, but our collective disconnect from the food system presents a much greater challenge – both to the planet and our health. A fast growing Scottish movement of small scale farmers and community based food growers – The Landworkers’ Alliance In Scotland – presents an alternative vision for our food system.
‘Place’ has become something of an obsession with our policy makers. While freshening up an old idea (community) with a new lick of place paint may attract some new interest, it doesn’t necessarily add a great deal to our understanding of the issues involved – unless it can generate a distinctly new or different perspective. For some time now, TRACS have been developing a body of work with a number of communities which explores ‘community’ from the perspective of the People’s Parish and the development of Parish Maps.
15 years ago, the Westminster Government commissioned a report into the viability of transferring public assets to communities. Barry Quirk,a local authority chief executive, led the review and because of his background, community sector leaders feared the worst. To everyone’s surprise Quirk came out strongly in favour of public asset transfer. It was a seminal moment which injected new belief and energy into the idea of communities owning land and buildings . It’s all become so mainstream nowadays that we barely notice it. Yet only a few years ago, what’s just happened in Rosyth would have attracted national headlines.
For many rural communities, tourism is the mainstay of the local economy and while the full force of the pandemic on this sector has yet to be fully established, it’s estimated that 80% of foreign visitor spend and 50% of spending from the home market has been lost. From the estimated £11bn that tourism generates, a small but growing contribution comes from community led tourism initiatives. Social Enterprise Academy is offering fully funded places on their tailored training programme for local tourism leaders. Meanwhile, Senscot is helping community leaders in Brechin and Girvan to develop their own unique tourist offering.
Years ago when community planning was in its infancy, John Swinney made a speech that implied the only thing everyone should focus on was improving outcomes and that it really didn’t matter who delivered that improved outcome so long as it was achieved. The implication being that everyone needed to be much more prepared to step out of their silos in order to understand the bigger picture of what needed to be done. For some reason, that message stayed with me and I was reminded of it by this recent tale of a court officer known as Fast Eddie.
Once upon a time, when the first stirrings of land reform entered the public consciousness, and when questions were beginning to be asked whether Scotland’s highly concentrated pattern of land ownership was in the public interest, the private landowning lobby felt secure in the knowledge that they had a rock solid defence – their inalienable property rights framed in human rights legislation. But it turns out human rights are a double edged sword. With rights come responsibilities and with far-reaching human rights legislation scheduled, more ambitious land reform looks inevitable. Good blog by Human Rights expert Professor Alan Miller.
Fifty years ago last month, Jimmy Reid gave one of his famous speeches to the workers of Upper Clyde Shipbuilders (UCS) informing them of the union’s decision to occupy the yards for the much renowned ‘work-in’. His daughter, Eileen Reid writes in the Scottish Review, lamenting the loss of an era of solidarity when community spirit was so tangible you could almost touch it. While recognising that era has long gone she nonetheless believes there is no expiry date on the universal principles of equality and fairness – the same principles her father was fighting for.
In advance of the Glorious Twelfth of August, the increasingly besieged supporters of grouse shooting set out their stall in defence of the significant environmental cost and loss of wildlife which their ‘sport’ demands. In addition to their claims of creating local employment and all the inward investment that grouse shooting brings to a local area, a new social impact is being claimed. A report, commissioned by the shooting industry, argues that grouse shooting brings social benefits as well because it encourages those who do the shooting to mix socially with those who cater for them. Glorious.
The WAT IF? area covers the three rural villages of Woolfords, Auchengray and Tarbrax, along with several small hamlets and outlying settlements. 90% of the area is in South Lanarkshire, with 10% in West Lothian, covering the small hamlet of Cobbinshaw. The Trust was formed in 2012 to ensure that community benefit funds from the various windfarm developments in the area were distributed in the local area for community led projects and improvements. Although the villages are classed as rural, they are easily accessible from Livingston and Edinburgh, however infrastructure is lacking and one of the key priorities for WAT…Find out more