Mike Vickers' Blog

September 1, 2010

Linlithgow – Community Development

Filed under: Linlithgow Business Association, Linlithgow Climate Change — derryvickers @ 9:34 pm

Financing a sustainable future for the town

The Town Centre Management Group hosted a presentation by Alan Caldwell, a consultant in community planning, regeneration and low carbon futures.  The meeting was well attended by members of the TCMG, the Climate Challenge Group, the LBA and a number of consultants.

Alan’s premise was that towns cannot expect funding for community development of any sort from the usual sources such as the Local Councils or even Central Government.

If Towns have projects they wish to pursue it is now a DIY exercise.  Towns must set up a formal organisation through which to do so.  Alan instances such a body as a Community Development Organisation (CDO). 

Alan sees that such CDOs will only succeed if they include five ‘ingredients’.  They are:

  1. Finance – they must have a good source of finance.  In the discussion Finance could take the form of a good Asset base which is income generating
  2. Organisation – this needs to have a legal and well understood and respected structure.  It needs to be manned by professionally qualified members.  These may be unpaid volunteers – Comrie was only one paid director, Alan.
  3. Planning – there needs to be a Strategic plan.  This is a must if finance is to be raised commercially.  Too often local groups are driven by emotionally charged individuals who are good at the Vision and at the day to day running of the group but miss out the Strategic Plan.
  4. Community involvement – a CDO needs to take the whole community with it.  Aspires was mentioned here.  Community involvement is likely to be through a number of working groups (I took this not necessarily the many informal groups that many towns have already)
  5. Partners – a CDO should establish a number of partnerships with private investors.   

Projects that Alan suggested were Renewable Energy and Land Projects.

Comments from the ‘jury’ included :

  • The basis of finance needs to be different in the 21st century than in previous ones.  Examples could be landowners making land available free provided that they received a revenue stream.  Supermarkets giving shares in lieu of pension provision.  Debt is to be avoided
  • The difficulty of persuading existing groups to release control and ownership in favour of an embracing CDO
  • Are OSCAR and the Inland Revenue fully bought into the CDO business approach.  Alan said Yes
  • Clarendon House and the Venal are two possible land development projects already identified by the Civic Trust.

 

Hazel Hay will produce formal notes but my first impressions are:

  1. Apart from the projects identified by the Civic Trust there are no obvious large projects in Linlithgow.  Climate Challenge would say that reducing carbon is one but this is a concept rather than a project per se.  Wind generation has been mentioned but all sites have been dismissed so far as unsuitable.  A community bank has been proposed and this would be valuable if a number of significant assets were to be acquired but we are back to the lack of large projects to provide the base
  2. A CDO needs to support the whole community but Linlithgow is dominated by very active specialist groups who are unlikely to surrender their sovereignty readily.  This has been amply demonstrated by Linlithgow Aspires.
  3. Emphasis at this stage is too much on low carbon.  Sustainable commercial business has a place too.
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