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 Scotland leads on community-led regeneration!

CymunedolAn alliance campaigning for community-led regeneration has been formed in Scotland amid claims statutory agencies are failing the nation’s poorest. Development Trusts Association Scotland (DTAS), social enterprise network Senscot and other organisations have created a coalition called Local People Leading. The alliance said long-term improvements in deprived areas would only be achieved if land and assets were handed over to residents.

It claimed the community sector had been demoted in Scotland by top-down initiatives while the opposite had happened in England, demonstrated by the launch of a £30m fund allowing residents to take over assets from local authorities.

Angus Hardie, director of DTAS, said: ‘The Scottish Executive’s regeneration policy statement, People and place, is full of empty rhetoric about engaging local communities that isn’t followed up with action. ‘Residents must be given a real stake in their areas by taking control of land and assets so they can generate their own income and become independent of the state.’

Mr Hardie said the transfer of assets to communities in the Scottish Highlands and Islands had led to dramatic successes. He said the economy of Gigha island off the country’s west coast improved after residents were allowed to buy the land. ‘Urban authorities don’t understand the psychology of community control and have traditionally dealt with regeneration through top down initiatives,’ he added. ‘Rather than being handed strategies and grants, communities must lead the way themselves.’

Local People Leading wants Scotland’s political parties to commit to decentralisation and is calling for a review of the Land Reform (Scotland) Act to give residents more power to buy property, and for public bodies to transfer assets to communities at less than market value without seeking ministerial approval.

A Scottish Executive spokesperson said: ‘We are absolutely committed to much more active and positive engagement with communities in shaping their futures. That is the key thrust of the new Planning Act. ‘We also provide significant practical and financial support, through Communities Scotland, for community engagement and capacity building.’



 
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