North Ayrshire Council issues community wealth building update

North Ayrshire Council has said that its new bold and radical approach to developing a fairer local economy is bearing fruit.

The message comes exactly one year from the day North Ayrshire Council became the first Community Wealth Building (CWB) local authority in Scotland.

The ambitious Community Wealth Building strategy – published on 14 May 2020 – sets out how the council would take a new approach to ensure the local economy works for local people.

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.

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, while the council have signed a deal with Crown Estate Scotland to identify opportunities for regeneration and investment in the area

Work is due to begin on the new Community and Visitor Hub at Lochshore this month 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.

Local jobs will be created as part of the development and there will be the opportunity for the community to take ownership of or lease parts of the site, for initiatives such as community food growing or community woodland. There is also the potential for community-led delivery of affordable housing through the establishment of a community land trust.

The council has also worked in partnership with the community, securing much-needed funds, and setting up a charity 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.

Councillor Joe Cullinane, leader of North Ayrshire Council and Cabinet Portfolio Holder for Community Wealth Building, said: “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.

“We have invested in dedicated Community Wealth Building officers who will work closely with local communities and businesses to develop opportunities and support them to realise their ambitions whilst retaining more wealth in our local area

“This is only the start and we will continue to use our £10.2m Investment Fund and Green New Deal to build back better, fairer and greener.”

A selection of the key activities in the past 12 months include:

  • Launch of the Community Wealth Building Strategy in May 2020 and Community Wealth Building Expert Advisory Panel established.
  • Keep it Local campaign launched in July to support economic recovery and grow local spend
  • In August the Council became the first Scottish Local Authority to join the Wellbeing Economy Alliance
  • The Economic Recovery and Renewal Approach (North Ayrshire Green New Deal) was published in September with the purpose of building back better, fairer and greener.
  • The Ayrshire Community Wealth Building Anchor Charter was launched during Challenge Poverty Week in October. Seven Anchor Institutions have signed the Charter, including North, East and South Ayrshire Councils, NHS Ayrshire and Arran, Ayrshire College, Scottish Enterprise and The Ayrshire Community Trust.
  • In November the Ayrshire Growth Deal was signed, including a £3m Community Wealth Building Fund.
  • Approval for a Solar Photovoltaic farm in Kilwinning was granted by Cabinet in January 2021
  • In February, North Ayrshire Council Cabinet approved a £500,000 Green Jobs Fund to support the creation of local fair and green jobs.
  • Also in February it was confirmed that Stevenston Beach Hub and Millport Town Hall would receive Scottish Government Regeneration Capital Trust funding
  • A new Regeneration Delivery Plan was agreed by Cabinet in March 2021 to maximise our land and assets and the regeneration of communities across North Ayrshire.
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