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.

April 18, 2010

Linlithgow accepts the Future City Game Challenge

Filed under: Linlithgow Business Association, Linlithgow Climate Change — derryvickers @ 8:08 pm

Five teams, drawn from across the whole Linlithgow community, took part in The Future City Game held on 24th March under the auspices of the British Council and the guidance of Architecture + Design Scotland.  The Game was generously hosted by Sun / Oracle and has facilitated by Monika Komarowska specially flown in from Warsaw.  Monika had already run 7 successful games across Europe.

The Game normally takes three days but we packed it into a hectic one day.  We started with briefings on Linlithgow as it is at present and its immediate future and what we might have to cope with in 2035 where energy costs could be 10 times what they are today. 

The five teams:

  • sat down to work for each to come up with a solutions as to how the Linlithgow community will cope, sustain and prosper in what will be extremely challenging circumstances.  Needless to say the teams came up with very varying solutions but all featured self sufficiency. 
  • solutions were then subjected to examination by three teams of local experts; business, community and one from the Academy.  The Academy students are of course the most interested of all of us as to life in 2035.
  • presented their solutions to everyone and we all had a chance to vote.

The five teams’ solutions were:

Orange Team   LIFT – Linlithgow Investment Futures Trust – a revolving trust kick started from energy savings and maintained by funds from the community whether business start-ups, Celebrate Linlithgow, natural resources for energy generation, or just investments by the community at large

Yellow Team   Eco Zone – led by ‘the young voice’ with the community providing them with more facilities and entertainment all eco friendly

Red Team       Linlithgow Enterprise Park – creating an enterprise park to encourage talent to stay in Linlithgow.  Built on the North of the Loch so that business is separated from the historic centre which is pedestrianised

Blue Team       Live local Linlithgow – being self sufficient in energy and food, managing waste and focusing on public transport

Green Team    The Living Room – creating a HUB at the heart of the town, making the Cross a place where the whole community, young and old feel at home in its ‘living room’

The winning team – Yes it’s the Orange Team with its revolving trust.  The concept will now be taken forward and hopefully lead to a full feasibility study which could evolve into a Development Trust as created by North Harris, Eigg and Tiree.  In such a trust all members of the Linlithgow community would be eligible to one vote and a trust board would be elected to represent the interests of the community and oversee the operation of the trust and the distribution of the funds.

One interesting point, although LIFT was the winner, all solutions offer a way forward for Linlithgow and are largely complementary and should be viewed sympathetically by the Linlithgow Aspires Project.

December 31, 2009

Climate Change Opportunities for Linlithow

Filed under: Linlithgow Climate Change — derryvickers @ 11:55 am

I have taken Alan Brown’s activities and suggested what we might achieve on each of them and why.  Please provide your own thoughts and add any that you feel we should strive for.


Climate Change Activity

% Save



More local / seasonal food and related services/infrastructure/skills/jobs/etc.


Save on transport from local food


More use of sustainable transport – buses, trains, cycling, walking, etc


Limited by need for some people to travel to work


More homes insulated to the max


I suspect not possible to insulate older properties


More renewables in town. Mostly solar thermal as that’s the easiest 1st step for many.


That’s what we seem to get


Detailed research/costings on community scale renewables.




A local currency, more local jobs, and a Development Trust


Local jobs would reduce need for commuting. 
Development Trust does not of itself save but aids new ideas and solutions


Improvements to public buildings / lighting / boilers / insulation / controls etc.


Covered by 4.


Greater recycling rates and services, esp for glass and High Street/flats.


Would be nice to know what the Council get paid for recycled material and how much saved by not having to landfill


Improvements to business practices / produces and services




Support for ECO tourism in services offered etc


Work with ScotRail to provide reduced fares for Palace visit


Changes to education – skills – cooking / sustainability choices / etc.




A connected local authority who’s helping to deliver solutions and to solve their own issues


Frequent bus service to Livingston and St John’s


Local electricity


I can’t see turbines on Cockleroy insurmountable


Education programme for Schools




Average saving



Personally I would group 5,7, 9, and 11 under Development Trust.  I
have added a separate item for School Education as this I see as critical

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