Wednesday, 17 July 2013

The Regeneration Game

The locally organised Keep Corlick Wild campaign has been attracting some press interest, and is holding a public meeting next week in the Beacon Arts Centre. You may agree with the industrial development of a windfarm, provided it creates (actual local) employment or you may wholeheartedly disagree with the disruption of archaeological sites - another example of our heritage being eroded. In all honesty, I personally have not yet made up my mind, and I speak as someone who loves heritage and lives a brisk walk along the cycle track away from the proposed site. I need much more proof of the proposed benefits, and I know I don't know enough yet about the new energy goldrush sweeping the nation. Regardless, discussion and conversation can only be a good thing - whatever the outcome. Indeed in other rural communities, windfarms are often owned and operated directly by the community - a much more transparent model. Well worth attending the meeting, and hats off to Keep Corlic Wild for building up a head of steam and keeping the conversation going.

As an aside, totally unrelated to the above event, 2020 Renewables (the company behind the planning application) were one of the companies invited into the area to create investment by Riverside Inverclyde. There has been a lot of reporting over the last few days about the failures of RI, in the Greenock Telegraph, Inverclyde Now, the Herald and in perhaps the most straightforward numbers based version on BBC News.

Since our abortive Sugar Sheds Campaign in 2011, I try to keep politics out of this blog, the fairy stories I tend to be interested in are the old ones. Also, you'd be surprised how often having an opinion interferes with my day job. I've been disappointed however to see the facts of Riverside Inverclyde's delivery/non-delivery being politicised; I'm not sure how the rest of the community feels, but I don't care whose "fault" it is, or who said what when, I just don't want it to happen again - RI are our third attempt at a regeneration agency in the last 25 years. During the Sugar Sheds campaign I spoke to MPs, MSPs and Councillors from every political party, as well as members of RIs team - everyone locally knew RI wasn't working the way it should, as did any of the interested public - it was after all, self evident from the lack of new jobs and industry being created. To suggest otherwise now is disingenuous. We didn't need a "mid term report" to tell us that, perhaps just to prove it.

For now and for the next few years, the Urban Regeneration Company model remains an important gateway for much needed investment into this area, lets hope that the future composition of Riverside Inverclyde takes genuine and direct account of the Scottish Government Regeneration Strategy "Achieving a Sustainable Future", which has very clear guidelines for how best to involve the community in regeneration in meaningful and measurable ways, perhaps also involving local business leaders and entrepreneurs in the development of what comes next. It would be nice if we could all work together to achieve that, regardless of politics. Maybe that way, one day, regeneration will stop being such a misused word and turn into an actual reality.

Right. No more soapboxing, not my intention to offend or bore, we're all entitled to our personal opinion and all that - lets get back to graphic novel pages, pirates, witches, poems and stories about mysterious steam powered robots and dangerous public artwork...

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