Bill can help strengthen Falkirk communities

Community councillors in Maddiston want to start a development trust to bring opportunities to the area. Picture: Lisa McPhillips (130533a)
Community councillors in Maddiston want to start a development trust to bring opportunities to the area. Picture: Lisa McPhillips (130533a)

People are being urged to take control of their own communities as part of the ongoing reform of public services.

The Community Empowerment and Renewal Bill is currently going through the Scottish Parliament and the powers-that-be want to hand some of those decision-making powers to communities in a bid to make them less dependent on centralised services.

The move will mean more cash will be available to groups who want to improve their local areas by, for example, bringing old buildings back into use. Projects can be as small as opening lunch clubs in a community centre or as large as leading regeneration of whole areas.

The idea is to bring communities closer together by letting them run their own facilities, saving money in the process

Maddiston Community Council is currently looking at setting up a community trust that will help bring employment and new facilities to the area, and which could see them put forward ideas for the transfer of assets like the fire HQ, which is earmarked for closure, into community hands.

Secretary Jacquelene McDevitt said: “We think a development trust is the way to go to improve things for the area. It has to be something that is sustainable and bring employment opportunities and benefit everyone so we are working on ideas at the moment.

“It could work as an umbrella organisation for other people to do other things in the community and we are looking for people to get involved in setting something up.”

Karen Herbert, chief executive of Falkirk CVS, believes the bill can give communities a healthy heart.

She said: “It’s all about communities as assets. Assets are not just physical things like buildings, it’s the people within the communities who are encouraged to do more for themselves.

“It’s about getting back to the community and the individual. It’s happening across the public sector now. It’s not just local authorities, but involves the NHS, getting back into the community to work on prevention and keeping people out of hospitals.”