Monday, October 17, 2011

NICE coming back to life? Getting into “thought leadership”

The Nairnshire reports a NICE AGM last week but the group’s website states that it was a “director’s meeting”. Some confusion there then, surely an AGM would have been advertised?( UPDATE 18/10/11 confirmed by NICE - the meeting was not an AGM) Anyway, a document posted on line indicates a new director and chair were appointed and some discussion was had about the next steps NICE will take. As we reported last week, the NICE site has come back to life too and the first posting since March of this year has now turned into a flurry of digital activity with NICE seeking views of the population. Earlier this year some postings on the NICE site elicited quite a few responses but so far, this time round, little comment is coming forward. Are folk bothered now, with NICE having been dormant for just too long or can the inner circle of that organisation bring it back to life? Will the rank and file be willing to turn out on parade after the long hiatus? Mrs Gurnmeister was asked several times over the summer if she'd heard anything from NICE. Things are moving again however, on the 11th of this month NICE stated on their site: “It is time to take stock. Over the next few days, the NICE think-tank will be posting a series of observations and questions. The future direction and activity of NICE will depend on the level of response.”

Not much response so far for NICE then but there’s still time perhaps. Here’s an interesting section from the minutes of the Directors’ meeting last wee:

“It was thought that a radical approach is required, and the directors were aware that Alastair Noble had been in discussion with Highland Council representatives about a “community enterprise” taking on an active role as regards the long-term management of leisure, health and recreational functions in Nairn. Alastair believes that the town centre and common good assets are a vital ingredient of the development of such a plan, and had advised that Highland Council would welcome a “thought leadership” briefing paper on the subject. Michael Barnett said he thought that a Community Interest Company (“CIC”) would be a suitable vehicle because of the “asset lock” that is its essential feature – any profits are subject to a very rigid distribution “cap” to shareholders, and surplus profits can only be re-invested for the benefit of the community. But a CIC cannot be a charity, which precludes NICE itself assuming the proposed role unless it gives up its potentially valuable charitable status. NICE, however, could be a shareholder if the CIC were established as a different entity.” More here.

It will be interesting to see the reaction from the NICE membership to the document that Micheal Barnett intends to draw up and whether there will be enough interest at a public meeting at some time in the future to allow NICE to continue, once again with a strong public mandate. The town’s three community councils will have a new complexion soon, will they still want to support NICE? One has to ask also why any Community Interest Company should restrict itself to leisure, health and recreation? What about housing for example, shouldn’t Nairn be trying to get control of that again? And just what is the best mechanism for the community taking back a bit more control of Nairn’s civic affairs? Is it through the like of NICE or would it be better through (the Royal Burgh of) Nairn Community Council Forum? That is a group now established that will have a membership of at least 27 community councillors come next month. Why not say something to the NICE folk?

No comments: