North Ayrshire and building community wealth
Some quietly achieved radical localism and community wealth building going on in North Ayrshire. While the Preston Model, and its underlying logic of community wealth building, have been lauded over the last few years, it’s interesting to see which areas are actually picking up their lessons about local procurement and community networks, rather than just paying lip service to them.
One area that is certainly putting these ideas into practice is North Ayrshire council, who – as you can see from their embedded video above – have moved apace in their first year. They are being advised by Joe Guinean of the Democracy Collaborative in the US, who rhapsodises often about their progress on Twitter (see below).
Meanwhile, look at what can be done in a year by committed local leaders like @jcullinane86 @NAyrshireLab at work in their communities! The road to change is not through Westminster or national Labour politics but through base- and movement-building and #communitywealthbuilding https://t.co/TmcvO9tGW3
— Joe Guinan (@joecguinan) October 5, 2021
In their first year report (link here), the Council report that:
In May 2020, North Ayrshire became the first in Scotland to adopt Community Wealth Building with the aim of creating a fairer local economy.
A key focus is to grow local spend and support businesses to bid for contracts. The Council also vowed to ensure public land and assets would be utilised more effectively to meet community and business needs, as well as tackling climate change.
And since the launch of its CWB Strategy – which gained local, national and international coverage – much has been achieved for communities across the region.
The Annual Report highlights some the successes in the last 12 months with a focus on some of the local firms and community organisations who have all been helped by the Council’s focus on Community Wealth Building
In the Annual Report, the Council says it will continue to build on these successes and is committed to Community Wealth Building as a long term approach to transforming the region’s economy.
Councillor Joe Cullinane, Leader of North Ayrshire Council and Cabinet Member for Community Wealth Building said: “We are delighted to present our Annual Report. This is a real landmark occasion for the Council and allows us to highlight the work that has been carried out over a very busy 12 months. Not only that, it allows us to set our objectives for the coming years and I’m delighted we are launching this report during Challenge Poverty Week as we see Community Wealth Building as a key tool in tackling poverty.
“This is the first year of a five-year programme and I would say we are very much on track. That is testament to the support from everyone at the Council and also partners and local businesses who have bought into our vision.
“We launched our Community Wealth Building strategy in the midst of a global pandemic and it was clear then – more than ever – that a new economic model was needed. At a time of stubborn levels of inequality and a Climate Emergency, we need an economy that works for people and planet.
“This is the first year of delivering the Community Wealth Building strategy and its 55 actions and it has been absolutely vital to put building blocks in place to give us a platform to deliver even more in the coming 12 months.
“This is only the start and we will continue to use our £11.225m Investment Fund and Green New Deal to build back better, fairer and greener.”
In the last 12 months, other major Ayrshire Anchor Organisations – including NHS Ayrshire and Arran, East and South Ayrshire Councils, Ayrshire College, Scottish Enterprise and The Ayrshire Community Trust (TACT) – have signed the Ayrshire Community Wealth Building Anchor Charter and pledged to join North Ayrshire in encouraging local spend and investing in local companies whenever possible.
Workshops have been held to provide local businesses with support and guidance on the often-complex procurement process and the Annual Report highlights local success stories – including Scrimsign (micro-electronics) and James Frew Ltd – in securing public sector contracts.
The Council has also signed a deal with Crown Estate Scotland to identify opportunities for regeneration and investment in the area.
Work has began the new Community and Visitor Hub at Lochshore and this exciting development is seen as a shining example of how Community Wealth Building can work for communities. The £3.6 million development will see the Council use its land and assets to make a positive economic and environmental impact and to build something substantial for the community.
The Council has also worked in partnership with the community, securing much-needed funds to forge ahead with the redevelopment of Millport Town Hall.
Both the Lochshore and Millport projects have been successful and supported in securing Regeneration Capital Grant Funding from the Scottish Government.
The £251m Ayrshire Growth Deal was signed in November and all projects will adopt the principles of Community Wealth Building. The Deal includes a £3m Community Wealth Building fund which will be used to invest in capacity across the whole of the Ayrshire region to support local businesses and community organisations deliver Community Wealth Building ambitions as well as creating a bespoke Fair Work Ayrshire service.
Throughout the pandemic, and now as we hopefully ease out of it, the Council has supported and promoted local businesses through its ‘Keep it Local’ campaign to encourage communities to spend locally and support town centres.
Fair employment is another cornerstone of CWB and a number of case studies – including Gymmies Kitchen and Core Timber Systems – highlight efforts made to support local businesses and their employees.
Supporting the Council’s net-zero carbon emissions target by 2030 is also key to CWB and the Report highlights some of the eco-friendly moves – including plans for Solar Photovoltaic farms in Kilwinning and Shewalton and the £500,000 Green Jobs Fund – that will help on the journey to achieving this.
More here. As their cheerleader says, this is activity that has not waited on national-party politics, but built on local mobilisation and community action. Great to see the CWB model spreading.
This was originally posted on The Alternative UK blog on 6th October 2021.
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