Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Community Planning "has defined communities as one voice among many more powerful voices, mainly from the public sector"

We've had a fair bit in the local press recently about how visions of "Community Empowerment" differ between the newly created Nairnshire Community Partnership and the town's Community Council's. We posted an article last month.   Is it just another false dawn that will result in Community Empowerment simply becoming another centralised service? 

We have to admit that here at the Gurn we are perhaps the most pessimistic we have ever been about the chances of Nairn ever having a proper say in its own affairs and attempting to plan its own future, rather than others coming to town and telling us what has to be done - but maybe we have just grown too cynical and it is time to leave it all to more optimistic and visionary voices out there. We won't go as far to say that "we're doomed" but feel that the present situation is not very far away from that at the moment as far as addressing the democratic deficit goes. 

Serious students of these matters may wish to read an article in the latest newsletter from the Scottish Community Alliance entitled "Let communities Shape their own future" which features an essay from Stephen Maxwell at View magazine; it really does give a deep analysis of the situation in Scotland and describes some of the forces preventing real change in this direction. Here's a wee snippet:

"‘Community' has become one of the most deceiving words in Scotland’s political lexicon. Community planning seemed to promise that local communities would take the lead in the planning of their own services. Instead it has defined communities as one voice among many more powerful voices, mainly from the public sector, in a process led by local authorities.

'Community budgeting' seemed to promise that communities would gain control of a budget of their own to spend on their priorities. Instead it turned out to be a process by which public authorities would disaggregate their spending in local communities to establish the size and bias of the overall spend; a useful ambition but not quite what seemed to be promised by the headline.

'Community empowerment' was the most deceiving of them all. It seemed to leave little scope for misunderstanding; communities were to be given the power to take decisions on their own account along With a capacity to implement them, But it turned out to mean that communities would be helped to contribute their views on local priorities and to present them to multi-sectoral structures, such as community planning partnerships,"