I occasionally still buy a daily newspaper. It doesn’t really make much sense because it’s already on my phone, but I like the feel of the newsprint version in my hands. I know it’s only a matter of time before it disappears completely and I’ll miss it when it’s gone. The kind of journalism I seek will still be there, in amongst the digital melee, but just a little harder to find and, with algorithms doing what they do, perhaps a little harder to trust. Recent phone hacking scandals and, in some circles, a skewed relationship with the truth have seriously damaged its reputation, but at its best, journalism is what keeps our democracy in good order. And thankfully there are still enough in the Fourth Estate who take that responsibility seriously. Cut from the same cloth, and every bit as important, are the unsung heroes of the local and hyper-local independent news sector. Last week saw the launch of The Scottish Beacon – a new collaborative venture designed to strengthen and amplify the myriad voices of Scotland’s community news scene. Initially, eighteen community based publications have joined forces with many more certain to follow. Great news for local news.
In the most recent briefing…
Most people, at some point in their working lives, suffer from imposter syndrome or worse, fall foul of the Peter Principle which is when someone has been promoted into a position beyond their level of competence. Either way, some of the roles we take on during our careers can be poorly defined and we’re often left to make it up as we go along. Many who read this piece may consider themselves to be in a community leadership role of some sort or other. But what does that actually mean? This article from New Local has a stab at demystifying it.
For some time now the Scottish Government has been green lighting a massive expansion of fish farming – this despite the growing body of evidence of environmental damage caused by the industry. Last month saw the publication of The Scottish Government’s Vision for Sustainable Aquaculture which in many ways epitomises a dilemma facing all governments committed to tackling the climate and nature emergency. They seem unable to follow through with the policies that might address the root cause – the relentless pursuit of economic growth. Coastal Communities Network have been quick to point out the weaknesses in the Scottish Government’s new Vision.
A longstanding point of contention in the planning system is the question of how communities can have their voices heard. Planners argue that the most effective way for communities is to become involved as early as possible in the process. Communities argue that irrespective of how early they get involved, they are invariably ignored. The 2019 Planning Act proposed that communities should prepare Local Place Plans and if they do, councils would need to treat them with ‘due regard’. In other words, ‘Councils, you must read them but feel free to ignore’. It would be great to be proved wrong.
Progress on Participatory Budgeting (PB) – that process whereby the public vote to decide how public money should be spent – has been slow but sure. Which is probably just as well as its implementation requires wide ranging culture change within the public bodies holding these budgets – and more than anything that takes time. A commitment by Councils to spend 1% of their budgets through a PB process raised a few sceptical eyebrows but, to be fair, where it’s worked, it’s worked very well. Asking Renfrewshire Council’s roads department to get involved sounded a particularly unlikely proposition. Turns out they loved it.
The court ruling that restored wild camping and roaming rights on Dartmoor is perhaps a marker of Scotland’s progress compared to England in respect of land reform – but that’s no reason to take the foot of the gas here. With the land prices rocketing in Scotland there’s a growing sense of urgency that the forthcoming legislation must rediscover the radical taste for reform. Important recent contributions to this effect from land reform commentators Peter Peacock and Calum MacLeod, while Professor Mike Danson has been exploring the impact of monopoly ownership shifting to community ownership.
Credit unions are a global movement with over 375 million members across 118 countries, but these not for profit financial institutions, owned and run by their members and often community based, are far from being the default choice in this country to meet our banking needs. That’s probably because credit unions can’t really be compared with a mainstream banking service that sits as an App on your phone. The contribution of credit unions is quite different – much more than a simple offer of convenience banking. This tale of how one Irish credit union came about is worth a read.
Govan was the centre of world shipbuilding during the industrial revolution, but subsequent closure of the shipyards lead to unemployment, a high crime rate, derelict land and a decimated business community. A grass roots kick-back against that decline has led to community-based regeneration of the area and the Pearce Institute (locally known as the PI) has been at the heart of the initiative. The PI is well linked to Govan community groups, many of which are either housed in the PI, or rent space for their meetings. The PI works to encourage training and employment, promoting Goven as a centre…Find out more