It is good to see various reactions to some of the proposals being put forward by NICE on a local blog site. The whole point of this exercise is to stimulate discussion and engage with the local population. The main thing NICE was tasked to undertake, by the members, was to convert to a Community Development Trust with Right to Buy. All the activity in recent months has been directed towards this objective and that has now been achieved. We now have a structure that empowers the community with the means to influence their own future.
In planning new Articles for NICE it was necessary to project into the future and ensure that whatever initiatives came forward from the community, we had the legal tools in place to deliver. So any talk that decisions have already been made would not be correct. We had to anticipate possibilities – and our vision is purely one of possibilities underwritten by a structure that gives powers to the community – or as many that choose to be involved. The Articles have now been signed off by the Scottish Government and the people of Nairn now have the means to achieve what they could only talk about previously. As someone said at a recent meeting, given the changes in local and national government, if NICE did not exist, it would have to be created.
Activities and services once undertaken by the authorities can now be passed back to community bodies so that people can make their own decisions and run their own services. But, it’s important to know that nothing at this stage “is a done deal”. What NICE has achieved is significant, but it is only a framework into which residents may now bring their ideas. We have been perceived to talk just about buildings rather than people. But used creatively buildings can impact on people. Even so, no decisions have been made about what they will be used for. We are in no sense “well down the road” as any proposals will come out of consultation. But we stress that, whatever they are used for, the goal will be to improve amenities; the appearance of the town; create new jobs; provide affordable housing and offer new services. Attempts will be made to ensure that Nairn gets its fair share of resources and as a charity, significant new sources funding become possible.
So at this stage all we can say is:
What are your ideas for Nairn – the town centre; the common good lands, etc?
What would you do to create jobs?
How would you make it possible to build more affordable housing?
What facilities or attractions would you develop to improve quality of life and make Nairn an attractive destination?
What would you do to you tackle our decaying buildings?
How would you develop and improve our open spaces for leisure and relaxation?
If you could have more local decision making, what powers would you restore to Nairn?
You can add your ideas here
We’d like to think the whole of Nairn will become engaged but we are realistic enough to know that won’t happen. That’s why 10% is generally accepted as significant community engagement by Scottish Government. Various working groups will soon be established and we invite you to come forward with your ideas and be willing to get involved and help shape the future of Nairn and Nairnshire.
Some are puzzled why we included areas outside Nairn. Simply because if there are ever any new developments that impact on NHS services and provision, the health board area is defined more widely than just Nairn and the IV12 postcode. It seemed wise at this stage to include outlying areas in anticipation of possible initiatives that may present themselves.
Finally, it is important to make clear that none of the current directors of NICE will become the professional staff. The Articles preclude them from receiving any benefit, now or in the future. The reality is that part-timers can’t deliver a community project of this scale. Professional people with appropriate expertise will be engaged to deliver the agreed community vision.
We look forward to working with you. Wherever this ends up is largely down to you.