03 December 2013

S4M-07776 Local Development Trusts and Community Initiatives

The Deputy Presiding Officer (John Scott): The final item of business is a members’ business debate on motion S4M-07776, in the name of Christine Grahame, in praise of local development trusts and other community initiatives. The debate will be concluded without any question being put.

Motion debated,

That the Parliament recognises the significance and professionalism of the many local development trusts and community initiatives across Midlothian and the Borders and Scotland at large, the many individuals who give up their time, skill and energy to improving their communities such as Auchendinny, Gorebridge, Lamancha and Newlands, community hubs, Penicuik, Silverburn and Eddleston with projects such as The Lost Garden of Penicuik, Silverburn Community Garden and Hall, The Great Polish Map of Scotland at Eddleston and many more community initiatives; considers that these are solid testimony to their efforts, and notes their encouragement for other communities to dip their toes in trust waters.

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Stewart Stevenson (Banffshire and Buchan Coast) (SNP):

The motion is some 103 words—it would take nearly a minute to read it out if someone were to do so—but fortunately there are four words in it that are “and Scotland at large”. I am at large, speaking on behalf of some of the people in the north-east of Scotland who, like those in Midlothian and the Borders, are heavily engaged in trust work.

In Peterhead, we have Peterhead Projects Ltd, which is working on community woodland. That is about developing people as much as it is about putting up buildings. In Banff and Macduff, we have the Princess Royal Sports and Community Trust. It of course has buildings—it has gyms and it is making sure that people get fitter—but, more fundamentally, it is going out and engaging with schools and with young people to show the value of physical exercise.

In Portsoy, the Scottish traditional boat festival has grown under the local trust’s aegis from the first year, when it attracted 200 people, to a festival to which a five-figure number of people come. People come from Australia and New Zealand each year to participate in that festival. It has taken on the salmon bothy and the PORT’s boatshed. It is into buildings.

The Boyndie Trust just along the coast from Portsoy runs a cafe and a community bus service. It provides training for 70 people who would otherwise find it very difficult to get into employment and, in the cafe, it procures from local sources, supporting its own community.

On the borders of my constituency on the other side is the Huntly Development Trust. There is also a development trust in Keith. In Buckie, the football club there, through the Highland league and its work, is reaching out, using its facilities to reach others and ensure that their attributes are deployed and that people are getting fitter.

Of course, we have little community harbour trusts in many of the communities round the coast, some of which have been extremely successful in bringing very old facilities back into use.

I want to talk in particular about Fraserburgh Development Trust. Fraserburgh is a town of some 15,000 people where probably more than 20 languages are spoken. People have come to Fraserburgh from all over Europe and the world. The town earns its living the hard way—in the fishing industry, both onshore and offshore. It has seen some pretty tough times, but it is definitely on the way up, and Fraserburgh Development Trust is an important part of that. It has been running community markets, or super Saturdays, to ensure that people know what is good about Fraserburgh. It is not simply the place with the mainland Scotland wind speed record of well over 100 miles an hour; it is a warm and friendly place, even if in the middle of winter it is far from feeling like that.

The trust is involved in the community garden and is trying to set up a renewables project, which will help the town to go green and, fundamentally, will help the trust to have a regular funding stream. The trust is working with Social Firms Scotland to consider taking over a local bakery, which will save jobs and create the opportunity to provide others with locally sourced food of good quality. The trust is working in the town centre and with a community health development officer. Fundamentally, as Christine Grahame said, the trust works through and with volunteers. Unlike Boris Johnson, who says that the top per cent of earners in London should get knighthoods, I think that the volunteers in our community trusts should get knighthoods.


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