Leader provides an update in latest column
Posted on 20 May 2020
I’d firstly like to start this column by thanking everyone who joined us for last week’s live online launch of our Community Wealth Building Strategy.
I was joined in the virtual conference by be Matthew Brown, Leader of Preston Council, Neil McInroy, Centre for Local Economic Strategies and Sarah McKinley, The Democracy Collaborative. They helped provide context on the challenges facing local economies and, like me, agree that bold, radical thinking is the only way forward for areas like ours.
Donna Fitzpatrick, from Fullarton Community Hub, Irvine, also joined us and it was really interesting to hear her views on how empowering local communities can enhance and enrich areas. The work she has done is inspirational and shows what can be achieved.
Community Wealth is not just about economic development, this is a new transformational approach for how we work as a whole Council to support our local communities and businesses and protect our local environment. We are Scotland’s first Community Wealth Building Council and proud to be so. I genuinely believe this approach can help us build a local economy that is stronger, fairer and more resilient.
The launch has created a real buzz around our ambitions to change the local economy through CWB, with one leading international think tank describing the Council’s strategy as a “beacon of hope” and social media awash with positive comments by economists, academics, campaign groups and public bodies across the country.
The launch has already had 10,000 views and hundreds of comments following the launch and we’re thrilled by that level of engagement on such a key and important policy shift for the Council.
The live launch is still on our Facebook page if you haven’t yet seen it. I would urge you all to check out the Strategy on the Community Wealth Building section of our website. Check the video out here
While we remain in lockdown and the advice remains to stay at home, we may be entering a new phase soon. It’s important to emphasise that things will change gradually and normality is not going to return for some time. But, with everyone following the guidance, I believe we can be in a much better position in the next couple of months.
Part of that new phase will be the reintroduction of some services that have been paused due to the lockdown. One such service is waste recycling centres.
I know there has been considerable interest in the recycling centres here in North Ayrshire and across Scotland but until now the Scottish Government’s guidance has been that recycling centres must remain closed. However, last Friday, at the COSLA Leaders meeting, I supported Scottish local government taking the first steps to reopening the centres across the country with a target date of 1st June.
As a thank you to all those residents who have stored additional household waste over the last eight weeks, and as part of our approach to ensure the safe reopening of our recycling centres, North Ayrshire Council are offering free special uplifts over the coming weeks. Uplift slots can be booked by calling 01294 310000.
In coming weeks and months we hope to reintroduce other services but things will not return to the old normal. We will need to continue to be more innovative in how people interact with local services in a period where social distancing remains in place.
There has been a lot of debate about the return of children to schools and while it looks like this could happen in England as early as June, there is no chance that this will be the case in Scotland.
Our absolute priority here in North Ayrshire is the health, safety and wellbeing of our pupils and staff. We would not open the schools in August if we felt it would pose a risk by doing so. There are clearly huge challenges for our schools and we will work with parents, teachers and the local teaching unions to ensure we have everyone’s confidence when we do reopen our schools.