Council hailed as 'beacon of hope' as they launch Community Wealth Building Strategy
Posted on 15 May 2020
North Ayrshire Council’s ambitious plans to resurrect the local economy have been hailed a ‘beacon of hope’.
Their Community Wealth Building Strategy was launched today as the Council outlined their vision to build a new, more resilient economy now and post Covid-19.
Sarah McKinley is the Director for European Programs for The Democracy Collaborative and the European Representative for the Next System Project.
Speaking at the online launch, she said: “In a time of such great difficulty, when it’s more obvious than ever that we need new models and approaches, North Ayrshire is a beacon of hope in pointing a way to a better future. It’s a privilege to work with the Council as they marshal their resources and the great natural endowments of the region to build a more sustainable, democratic, and prosperous economy for all.”
The CWB approach has also been welcomed by the Scottish Government.
Infrastructure Secretary Michael Matheson said:“North Ayrshire Council’s Community Wealth Building Strategy will play an important role in driving inclusive economic recovery as communities and businesses alike recover from the impact of Covid-19.
“As the first local authority-wide strategy of its kind in Scotland, I expect the commitment to Community Wealth Building to enhance the work already underway across the region through the developing Ayrshire Growth Deal.”
The Council worked closely with Centre for Local Economic Strategies (CLES) – recognised experts in the UK for Community Wealth Building – as they plotted the best way forward and how to adopt a CWB model that can work in North Ayrshire.
A report by CLES reinforced the Council’s view that new ways of working are needed to help deliver social, economic, and environmental justice for local residents.
Neil McInroy, CEO of CLES, said: “The CWB movement grows apace, and North Ayrshire are now a leading Scottish light. It has been a privilege to have worked with all concerned in Council and beyond. Their zeal, passion and commitment to develop this strategy for community wealth and create a greener, fairer and more just future for all has been admirable. The work will now continue apace.”
Throughout their CWB journey, the Council has been in constant dialogue with their counterparts in Preston – the first Council in the UK to adopt the economic strategy.
With a focus on procurement, their approach looked at spending more in the local Preston and Lancashire economy. Working over several years, there has been a significant increase in the amount the Council and their local anchors are spending with local enterprises.
Councillor Matthew Brown, Leader of Preston Council, said: “The launch of North Ayrshire’s Community Wealth Building strategy is significant as it means North Ayrshire will be Scotland’s first Community Wealth Building Council. Issues around who owns the local economy matter and the ambition of North Ayrshire is inspiring.
“We need a new way of thinking after COVID19 and a decade of austerity. Much can be done at a local level and the North Ayrshire response helps build a new economy where more wealth is shared with local people.”
Donna Fitzpatrick, from Fullarton Community Hub, Irvine, provided a local perspective on the evening.
She said: “We welcome the Council’s approach. We believe that to build up our communities again we need to generate resources from within and empower our local communities. Community Wealth Building has the potential to do this on a wide scale across North Ayrshire.”