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Communities denied say on regeneration

This post is about 7 years old

An influential committee of MSPs says Scotland’s most deprived communities are being frozen out of decisions on how best to regenerate their areas, despite decades of efforts to involve them.

An inquiry by Holyrood’slocal government and regeneration committeefound those who live in the most deprived areas of the country find it difficult to consult on regeneration plans.

The MSPs also said the funding landscape is unclear and piecemeal.

Too often what is described as community-led regeneration is actually little more than an exercise in community consultation - Angus Hardie

The committee called for all local authorities to employ a dedicated community support officer to spearhead local projects in an effort to improve the situation.

Committee convener Kevin Stewart MSP said regeneration was not just about buildings but about community, which is central to improving lives of the people of Scotland.

However people are being failed by current efforts, he said.

“All too often it seems that the community is not given a voice in what is happening to them.

“What is needed now to deliver the vision is clear leadership as well as collaboration and co-ordination from all those involved.”

The report found that many people in communities felt regeneration was something done to them and not something in which they felt involved.

Angus Hardie, director of the Scottish Community Alliance, said all too often what is described as community-led regeneration is actually little more than an exercise in community consultation.

“If the community is to actually lead the local regeneration process then local people should first of all lead a process of local planning,” he said.

“Then the locally developed plan is adopted through a local referendum/voting exercise and it becomes part of the statutory planning process.

“The regeneration work that follows is determined by the local priorities that are contained in locally adopted plan.

“That, in my book, would be community-led regeneration.”

Ian Cooke, chief executive of the Development Trust Association Scotland (DTAS), said there needed to be a clearer distinction between communities being involved in regeneration processes and communities leading regeneration processes.

“DTAS has long been an advocate of community-led regeneration, so we are very supportive of this policy, but already we see this important distinction being fudged by key players in the regeneration industry, many of whom are less supportive of this change in policy direction.”

The committee travelled across Scotland as part of their inquiry, visiting Govan in Glasgow, Ferguslie Park in Paisley, Maybole in South Ayrshire, Abronhill in Cumbernauld, the Whitfield scheme of Dundee and Aberdeen’s Seaton area.

Kevin Stewart said: “We heard time and again when we met in locations across Scotland that -communities have little or no involvement in the work being undertaken.

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “The Scottish Government acknowledges the inquiry’s findings and agrees the regeneration strategy can only be delivered if regeneration is delivered in partnership and by addressing the economic, physical and social needs of our communities.”

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