Only a few seats left in the conference room in the Community Centre earlier tonight when Alistair Noble presented his Chairman's report and after other AGM business the assembly got down to discussing the organisation's feasibility study for the social work building. The confidence and optimism for the future was palpable and although there were some interesting questions from the floor no one present seemed unduly concerned by comments made by Provost Liz MacDonald that were reported in a front page spread in yesterday's Nairnshire.
We hope to report further on the evening's events when time permits later this week. In the meantime here's Alistair's address to the meeting:
"This has been an exciting first year of NICE as a Scottish Charity and Community Body.
We have been asked to demonstrate our capabilities by delivering one major project. The development of the old social work building was the obvious first choice. After wide consultation we are tonight presenting our excellent feasibility study. We will now move, working in close cooperation with Highland Council to deliver a business plan in acceptable form to their Asset Management Project Board, seeking approval within 3 months. This is a solid amount of work and I would like to thank in particular Mike Barnett for managing the production of this business plan and ensuring the quality of its content.
The major proposal is for a 'Gateway Visitor Attraction'. Simply put, if we move from 5000 visitors in our existing visitor centre to a realistic 100,000 reached in smaller highland tourist towns we will generate more spend in Nairnshire to the benefit of local jobs and our tourists. We will have spent £500,000 on upgrading this lovely building in such a prominent and visually important site. This again will provide more local jobs, both in construction and retail.
NICE was set up to prioritise the needs of Greater Nairnshire. We live in a competitive financial environment and large payments for example by HIE to Forres and
Inverness makes it hard for Nairnshire to compete. This
is widely understood and accepted as the fundamental reason for setting up
NICE. If you look back at
Locality planning with a new emphasis on locality capacity is the way forward. The favoured NICE model is for NICE directors to be non–executive and employ professional staff to rebuild community capacity .We can also develop trading subsidiaries or social enterprise companies backed by the NICE Board but with a lot of freedom to develop .We feel this is the best way of harnessing the huge amount of voluntary support in Nairnshire without overexposing the willing few.
NICE is committed to Fair Share allocations from Local Authority, Health Board and HIE. 'Place Worth' is a simple concept where we all should know the total Nairnshire income and the percentage spent locally and therefore what is leaving Nairnshire. We want to increase our local spend and control. In doing so we believe we will achieve better value for money, more and better local jobs and above all a much greater Nairnshire Common Good in its widest sense.
In conclusion I would like to thank all my fellow directors and our helpers for all their hard work.
I thank our 1050 members for all their support and ideas. In a Scottish context this is seen as massive and valuable support and evidence of real community backing for NICE. Our membership team will be back working to increase the membership over the next 3 months as this greatly strengthens our position and opens even more exciting doors. I am looking forward to next year's progress report with a real confidence in Nairnshire's ability to lead the way in developing sustainable working practices for our future developments."