Over 70 SURF members and guests packed into the Scottish Parliament on March 22nd to give politicians the benefit of their views on the priorities for improving regeneration policy in the next parliament. Senior representatives of all the main political parties heard to the views of experienced representatives from the different sectors supporting regeneration in Scotland and outlined their own party’s main manifesto commitments.
In advance of this special Election Question Time event SURF had already widely circulated a paper reflecting the main messages from its membership at recent SURF events and discussions. The main points put to the politicians by SURF members included:
- The winding up of community forums and similar organisations appears to fly in the face of continuing rhetoric on a desire for communities to be more involved in regeneration planning and delivery.
- Communities need to be able to access resources for development more directly rather than having to go through various stages within more confined partnership structures.
- A more open, tolerant and diverse debate on policy direction is needed.
- Essential services should continue to be delivered via the democratic structures of national and local government and their agencies, but the important role of voluntary organisations needs more substantial and consistent support.
- More creative and inspirational approaches to building community confidence and participation are required.
- It is important that some more thought is given to measuring and appreciating the value of non-economic outcomes of support work for currently excluded individuals.
- The range of anti-poverty initiatives and funding streams needs to be simplified and more coherently targeted.
- There is considerable scope for improving the additional benefits to be accrued from the £8B of public sector procurement budgets by greater use of social enterprise organisations.
- The medicalisation of poverty is a continuing and increasing diversion from tackling the root cause of inequality
- It is important to recognise and support the benefits in improving the quality of open spaces between buildings and not just the built environment itself.
- Child poverty and poor domestic and social environments continue to blight lives and store up future problems.
- Further significant benefits can be achieved from improving links to sport for all.
Thanks to Professor Ivan Turok who chaired the questions and comments session.
“Towards a Manifesto for Scottish Community Regeneration”, a SURF paper setting out key regeneration issues raised by our members, is available for download.