It seems there is a chance that some grass cutting may still be on the cards for the nascent Nairn River Enterprise and the other aim of a "re-use" facility is back on the agenda again. In one of their final meetings before the Community Council elections Tommy Hogg and his colleagues voted to fund £300 towards a public meeting and drop-in sessions to help the new organisation get off the ground and possibly inject £5,000 they have set aside in their funds should the public meetings be successful.
There are currently 5,199 Social Enterprises in Scotland and 22% of them are in the Highlands. More information on Scotland's Social Enterprise scene here in this PDF document.
So could Nairn soon be joining this success story? Here's some information from River Community Council's Simon Noble:
"Nairn River Enterprise is to be a social enterprise managed by local people formed to provide services that improve the physical, social and economic make-up of the town of Nairn, generating employment opportunities for local people and contractors. Today we’re launching the process to invite local people to volunteer to become a part of the management of this Nairn project.
The Enterprise will undertake projects to improve the look of areas like the riverside walks, the old BMX track etc. Later we’ll start up a re-use scheme collecting from Nairn, refurbishing and selling in Nairn old furniture, electrical goods etc., at affordable prices.
Apart from the benefits for the town, we’ll be providing training and placement opportunities for young and long-term unemployed people and we’ll employ local contractors for some jobs. We’ll raise funds to undertake these projects and we’ll work with other interested organisations, for instance those already involved in riverside conservation or restoring the riverside play park.
The idea for Nairn River Enterprise came from discussions at Nairn River Community Council and reflects the frustration expressed by many local people about the way in which maintenance of our open spaces has deteriorated and how we seem to have no local control over what can be done.
NRCC has heard many concerns about employment, grounds maintenance, riverside regeneration, re-cycling and re-use at its meetings over recent years and decided to work on a plan that could make it possible for Nairn people to do something about all this for themselves, rather than rely on the hope that organisations run from Inverness and elsewhere might sort it out. The plan is now ready for the next stage, ready for members of the community to get involved.
All residents, aged 16 and over, of Nairn River Community Council’s area, together with those of Moss-side and Achareidh, are eligible to become members of Nairn River Enterprise. The Social Enterprise will begin life with a small reserve fund of £300 and the prospect of £5,000 from Highland Council’s DAF Fund. It will be a Company Limited by Guarantee, which means that any surplus must be ploughed back into running services and members have a maximum liability of £1 should it go bust.
In the beginning, the initial members will form the Interim Board of the company that will remain in place until the first General Meeting, to be held as soon as practicable after the Enterprise’s formation, ideally within 3-6 months.
We hope that initial members will pay a subscription of £20, but we don’t expect those on benefits to pay this.
People can learn more and keep in touch with developments via NRE’s Facebook and website pages:
We are also to hold a public meeting at the Community Centre at 7 pm on 24th September. Interested individuals in the NRCC area, Moss-side and Achareidh can attend and learn how they can support the enterprise.
“Pop-in” sessions are to be held in the Courthouse on 8th October from 11am to 2pm and on 13th October from 1 to 4 pm. Locals can just pop-in for information and a chat.
Simon Noble 07766 237312
Nairn River Community Council’s area covers Lochloy, Merryton, Boath Park, River Park, Broadhill, Fishertown, The High Street area, Mill Rd/Church Street, Cawdor Rd, Queenspark and Firhall"
A wider view on Community Enterprise also came through the digital letterbox yesterday from the Scottish Community Alliance. Here's their analysis:
"Some intriguing facts and figures from Scotland’s social enterprise scene emerged last week. The big headline is that social enterprise is thriving as never before – 5000 enterprises with 200 start-ups each year, employing 112,000 people, with annual income and assets running into the billions. Even if the financial muscle of housing associations and credit unions is removed from the picture, it’s still a healthy one. About 25% of all this activity is reckoned to be community owned and led – a distinct subset of the total picture which we’ve long argued needs to be nurtured quite differently. But as the lexicon of social enterprise edges ever closer to its private sector cousin with its focus onproducts and customers, scaling-up, and attracting private equity investment, some are less than comfortable with this shift in emphasis (interestingly, one in three of those who took part in the census don't regard themselves as social enterprises). While embracing a more explicit business culture may advance the cause of social enterprise generally, it also marks a divergence from the ethos of the community sector – keeping it local, small scale, collectively owned for the common good. That's not necessarily a bad thing in itself, just worth noting."