Some Questions for the Future
Notwithstanding the many challenges, we encountered people with real hopes and aspirations for their community.
Everywhere we met people with ideas on how to make the best of new opportunities and who were excited to share them. Some questions which seem central to moving forward are:
- How to make better and more efficient use of existing resources in the communities
- How to encourage and enhance collaboration within and across communities?
- How to attract and accommodate people, especially younger people, through new job opportunities and affordable housing?
- How to make the best of tourism, while building a sustainable economy?
- How to attract necessary funding for community projects?
- How to support local autonomy, decision-making and problem-solving?
- How to ensure long-term planning rather than merely short-term gain?
The reality is that the reduction in public funding is likely to continue and this means that it seems imperative to encourage greater local creativity.
Our recommendations focus more on process than substance.
- Enhanced and better communication from public servants and politicians to communities (and vice versa) about decision making, policy generation and budget allocation, to reduce the sense of sense of isolation and distance from decision-making, and of being “done to”
- Better physical and technological contact and connectivity between and within communities, enabling them to learn from and with each other, drawing on each other’s resources, experience and knowledge, and standing stronger together to advocate and negotiate on common issues
- Further initiatives like the BCBT with better and more thoughtful advance stakeholder mapping and engagement to ensure that groups and people are contacted and invited and with a clear message and a purpose that is meaningful to local areas
- Involvement of local and regional groups including Community Planning Groups in further initiatives of this kind, and considering how these align with the Scottish Government’s Community Empowerment legislation
- Linking to other initiatives such as the Scottish Rural Parliament and the review of local governance
- Establishment of a group of trained independent facilitators and mediators who might assist local communities with specific issues
- Consideration of the establishment of a Collaboration Forum to engage communities further
- Development of opportunities for rural communities to learn practical skills for participation and constructive engagement on difficult issues
- Consideration of funding options for further initiatives of this type
- Dissemination of the findings of this Report
- Early discussion among BCBT partners about taking these recommendations forward
- Specific and well supported follow up with the communities visited on the BCBT, to build on the initial energy and enthusiasm and specifically exploring with participants whether further action has resulted from participation in the Tour
We hope that implementation of these recommendations will inspire better conversations and collaboration within and across communities, as well as with other sectors.