In the 1990’s, when Scotland’s local authorities first embraced the financial sleight of hand known as the Private Finance Initiative (PFI) to replenish their school estates, I had the misfortune to play a minor role for one local authority in assessing the community benefits each bid claimed they would deliver. As it eventually transpired, there weren’t any but that was the least of it. I and my fellow assessors were hopelessly out of our depth with no understanding of the financial debacle that was about to unfold. And despite all the evidence since that confirms the profligacy of this approach, those razor sharp financiers are forever reinventing, recasting or sometimes just renaming their opaque financial instruments with which to extract their next haul of profits from the public purse. Their latest venture is steeped in the language of climate change, net zero and nature restoration. Throw in the usual references to community benefit along with assurances that it’s all about bolstering the local economy, and before you can say PFI, a shiny new £2bn PFI is signed off by Ministers and NatureScot – all presented as if there’s no downside and certainly no alternative. Some might beg to differ.
In the most recent briefing…
Fenwick in Ayrshire is the true birthplace of the cooperative movement. In 1761 the first ever cooperative society was formed by a small group of weavers. Although there are still plenty of inspiring examples of worker cooperatives in existence, it’s also true to say the profile and attractiveness of the worker cooperative model for new business start-ups has dipped in recent years. And so it’s very welcome news that a West Lothian village that once played a key role in founding Scotland’s cooperative movement is planning to open a major new heritage attraction to celebrate their historic contribution.
There can hardly be a community group that hasn’t at some point agonised over how to get their message over more effectively to convey the value of what they do. If that rings a bell and you think you have a story to tell, then here’s your chance. A new campaign from SCVO – #EssentialSector – is designed to remind everyone just how essential our sector is and eight organisations are being offered the chance to work with professional filmmakers to translate their story into a short film. You’ve only got until Friday to submit a (very) short application.
Historically, groups that deliver youth work are often regarded as a soft touch for funders looking to make cuts. And often that’s because the true value of good youth work is rarely appreciated. A decision to close down a youth club or lose some youth work hours can take months and sometimes years to make its impact felt, but by the time it does the damage will irreversible. Consequently, it’s most unusual for a youth project to be as enduring and resilient as the one that has served the Gorbals and Govanhill communities since 1967. What’s their secret?
In the same way that an unproven consensus evolved around the efficacy of the PFI approach to delivering public infrastructure, a groupthink now exists around what kind of organisation is best suited to build and manage social housing – the bigger the better. Making the counter-argument, Ariane Burgess MSP led an excellent debate in the Scottish Parliament last week celebrating the work of Scotland’s small, community led housing providers. Strong contribution from Paul Sweeney MSP in defence of Reidvale Housing Association, soon to be swallowed up by predatory English-based housing behemoth Places for People. Why does the Housing Regulator permit this?
You’d think it would be pretty much impossible to top the long running disruption of ferry services as the single biggest frustration for island and coastal communities, but lately the Scottish Government looked like they were trying to do just that with the announcement that Highly Protected Marine Areas (HPMAs) were to be introduced as the principle tool for tackling the biodiversity crisis in the marine environment. It’s not that comprehensive action to restrict the damage being done to the marine environment isn’t essential, it’s just that, as the community on Arran have shown, you’ve got to take your communities with you.
One of the defining features of the new National Planning Framework (NPF4) is its focus on place, what a successful place actually looks and feels like, and what it should take for us all to be able to live locally. The idea of the 20 minute neighbourhood sits at the heart of this and many of the aspirations of NPF4 will depend on whether this borrowed concept can be successfully implemented. After much speculation, last week’s publication of the draft guidance should offer some clarity as to where it’s all heading. Consultation ends in July
The Foundation was established in 1997 and with the help of many supporters bought out the remains of the Knoydart estate in 1999.Since then it has created significant assets for the whole community and we have 11 properties which are rented out at affordable rents, support community development, operate a ranger service and provide support for tourists and visitors, run a hydro-electric scheme (no grid connection here) and other services, run a bunkhouse, operate a small shop, have a venison butchery business, lease land and buildings, and manage the wild deer herd. With the support of its trading subsidiaries, The…Find out more