Publication - Strategy/plan

Democracy Matters - local governance review: phase 2

This discussion document builds on the first phase of Democracy Matters conversations. It would have provided the basis for a second phase of deliberation on future scenarios for community decision-making in different settings if the pandemic had not prevented these from taking place as planned.

Democracy Matters - local governance review: phase 2
Current Examples of Community Decision-Making

Current Examples of Community Decision-Making

Mull & Iona Community Trust

For 22 years Mull & Iona Community Trust has been delivering successful community development projects and addressing problems of geographic isolation and economic and social exclusion in remote and rural communitieswhich are the home of over 3,000 people.

We currently employ 26 people and work with a range of public, private and third sector partners. Crucially we work within our own community and take great pride in this. Some of our achievements are that we:

  • Built Tobermory Light Industrial Park, a £2m estate, to support small business sustainability and development in North Mull.
  • Built and run An Roth (“the wheel” in Gaelic) Community and Enterprise Centre which offers flexible space for community and business meetings, a wide range of training courses, and conferences.
  • Operate three recycling charity shops, beach cleaning stations and various composters, including one at industrial scale, preventing 60 tonnes per annum going to landfill.
  • Built and run a £1m hydro scheme which is generating funding for community projects.
  • Developed a swimming pool with a local hotel by raising money and project managing the build.
  • Bought 200 hectares of forest with wood harvesting and replanting due to begin soon.
  • Operated a ferry service that was previously run by the council until the funding ended.

We have good relationships with partners, but decision-making processes can be slow and hard to predict. More decisions taken by the community, including how resources are deployed, could better support and improve important services on Mull and Iona.

Healthy n Happy

Healthy n Happy is the community development trust for Cambuslang and Rutherglen, a diverse urban area with a combined population of 57,000 and affected by significant deprivation and inequality.

Our vision is that Cambuslang and Rutherglen will become the healthiest and happiest places to live in Scotland. We are a community-owned organisation established in 2002, governed by local people, and steered by local priorities. Some of our achievements include:

  • Facilitating direct investment into communities. Over the past four years we have been able to lever in £2m direct investment into local communities across Cambuslang and Rutherglen.
  • Providing purposeful and engaging opportunities such as volunteering (290 per year), skill building courses, mental health and stress management support, play-based activities for children/young people and families through to healthy living, social and community activities.
  • Enabling people to make positive changes in their lives and their community, from building confidence and self-esteem, to boosting skills and relationships, to getting more involved in their local neighbourhood and becoming more responsible for their own health and wellbeing.
  • Three successful social enterprise businesses: Camglen radio station, Bike Town cycle shop and recycling project, and our community venue, Number 18.

We want to see more opportunity, power and budget resting directly with communities. This means sustained grassroots investment, at scale, in order to provide far greater influence, control and freedom to act according to local circumstances and perspectives, and employ more community-designed solutions. This requires a major shift in policy and mindset It would also strengthen the relationship with public sector partners and help them to improve outcomes which they are best placed to deliver.

Neilston Development Trust

Neilston Development Trust aims to make a lasting and sustainable difference to community life and the lives of individuals in a small town of around 5,500 residents, in the uplands to the southwest of Glasgow. Since 2004 we have:

  • Bought the former Clydesdale Bank branch using Community Right to Buy legislation to create a community hub in the village centre.
  • Re-opened the former bank with weekly programmes of varied community events, community café, garden, room rental, and volunteering opportunities.
  • Invested in wind farm. Subsequent sale resulted in the creation of a £2m Legacy Fund which manages investment and distributes funds to village groups.
  • Run Grow Eat Travel to help local people make personal contributions to the fight against climate change through active travel and sustainable food.
  • Volunteer-run bike hub getting more people cycling and travelling actively is moving towards becoming a fully sustainable social enterprise.

The Trust acts as an anchor for a wide range of activity in area, and is committed to working with the whole community to understand local priorities. Community organisations which can demonstrate democratic legitimacy should be able to control certain budgets and act as more of an equal partner with public sector organisations. Reforms which allow for this type of arrangement to be put in place could help us to meet real need in a very mixed community.