Saturday, May 12, 2018

"Our community has lost trust that their views and needs are being listened to or acted on by planners and other decision makers at Highland level." state Nairn River Community Council

Yesterday we published an article concerning the letter sent by Nairn River Community Council and five other local groups to Highland Council and the Scottish Government setting out their concerns over the lack of genuine "community empowerment" in Nairn. You can read that article here, well worth following the link there to the letter too. 

River CC have also filled in a document called a "participation Request" to Highland Council which is another quite remarkable document.  Such a request is something you can do under Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act 2015. Here's a couple of extracts from the River CC request for you:

"Our community has lost trust that their views and needs are being listened to or acted on by planners and other decision makers at Highland level. 

Furthermore as a Community Council we are finding the current local government climate in Highland to be actively hostile to the principles of community engagement, consultation and collaboration, enshrined in the Community Empowerment Act 2015, as we have just suffered 60% cuts to Community Council operational funds, and are aware that a previous participation request from another local Community Council in Nairn was recently rejected by Highland Council without any support offered to resubmit. 

We ( NairnRiverCC) along with several other community led bodies are currently raising concerns with senior HC management, Planning and Community Planning leads and Scottish local government minister, at how the current development planning and community planning process in Highland is not meeting local community needs in Nairn, by failing to implement the core principles of the Community Empowerment Act 2015."

"We know that Nairn is not getting its fair share of Highland resources, and our community wants to be more empowered to influence how our Council and business taxes are being spent. We also want to see proper local governance, and control over how our own Common Good assets are being used to benefit our town. We expect the next Nairnshire Plan to be community led, in line with the principles of the Community Empowerment Act, and look forward to leading that process in partnership with local authorities, rather than being told what has been decided at Highland Council HQ in Inverness after it has already been agreed and rubber stamped by officials, with our elected members sometimes only in the loop a matter of days before."

Here's how River CC see outcomes being improved:

"Public Authorities in Highland will deliver for Nairn on the principles of the Community Empowerment Act by ensuring that
  • local services and facilities are developed and delivered which meet identified local needs. ( including housing)
  • the interests, economic resilience and wellbeing of Nairn's local communities take priority over a centralised Highland Council agenda.
  • best value is derived for Nairn communities from council and business taxes and local Common Good assets 
  • due diligence and an infrastructure first approach is observed in public authority relationships with commercial developers. 
  • local plans are made more effective by drawing fully on local knowledge, expertise and experience available through Community Councils and other community led bodies 
  • local communities have a key role in local planning in line with CEA
  • public funds are not wasted in implementing plans or services which are unworkable or based on unrealistic revenue projections
  • no proposals affecting Nairn are permitted to go ahead without a proper evidence base, business case and effective public consultationWe cite again as examples of recent practice which require 'doing it differently', the parking charges proposals and draft parking policy currently being imposed on Nairn by Highland Council without any local consultation or collaboration .
Such ill thought through proposals are not only financially unrealistic and wasteful, but also potentially damaging to Nairn's community resilience and local and tourist economy."

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