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BIDs Scotland Gathering 2015 a Success


The BIDs Scotland Gathering took place on 3 March 2015 and saw over 200 industry leaders from across, business, tourism, towns, communities and national and local government come together to celebrate the growing movement of Business Improvement Districts in Scotland and around the world.

A variety of delegates braved the snowy morning to arrive at the Perth Concert Hall, many contributing to our diverse exhibition showcasing business services, the third sector, towns support bodies and Business Improvement District groups.

The programme kicked off with Alex Neil MSP highlighting the growing success of Business Improvement Districts. He said:

"Over the past seven years, BIDs have played a significant role in the regeneration of many parts of Scotland, supporting economic growth and strengthening communities. Central to its success is strong leadership and partnership between local authority, business and community interests.

Having witnessed the success of BIDs, I encourage leaders here to consider how they can benefit from BIDs."

Keith Aitken, the Chair for the day, helped to set the scene by outlining how BIDs were thriving across lots of different communities in Scotland.

Director of Business Improvement Districts Scotland, Ian Davison Porter, outlined the growing success of BIDs in Scotland. He noted that Scotland had just gained its 29th and 30th BID just days before - Glasgow Byres Road and Dunblane.

Denzil Skinner from Essential Edinburgh outlined how BIDs can deliver greener cities - and the great work that Essential Edinburgh has been doing for the area around Rose Street and George Street.

Next up, Alastair Mitchell from Falkirk delivers spoke about how Falkirk BID has made the town safer and friendlier by working with local businesses and the community.

Next up was Sam Crawford from Enterprising Bathgate. He highlighted the need for BIDs to support businesses in whatever way they can after listening to local business concerns and needs.

Delegates networked over coffee, sharing stories of best practice from around Scotland.

Malcolm Brown, Chair of Queensferry Ambition spoke about the need for BIDs to work with and within their own communities to make sure everyone was thriving together.

Graeme Ambrose from Uniqueness BID then explained how Scotland's first tourism BID had to work with local communities and address local business needs in order to succeed.

Finally, international speaker David Downey, President and CEO of the International Downtown Association spoke about raising ambition for Scotland. He outlined how the BIDs movement has been growing across the US, and that public private partnerships can bring creativity and renewal to cities like Detroit that have suffered heavy population decline.

The Gathering ended on an extremely positive note, with David Downey forecasting a strong and growing network of business improvement districts across the US and the UK.

If you met someone knew, learnt something new or shared an idea we want to hear your feedback, let us know by completing this short survey! You can also view the BIDs Scotland Gathering delegate list.

Source: BIDs Scotland Gathering 2015 on Storify. See link to view multimedia material from the Gathering.


Cash boost for groups which tackle inequality

A diverse range of projects such as healthy eating clubs, money advice centres and grow your own gardens will receive funding to tackle poverty and inequality.

The Scottish Government’s £12.6 million People and Communities Fund is being allocated to 197 groups across Scotland that are changing disadvantaged communities by providing advice, training or voluntary opportunities.

Social Justice Secretary Alex Neil announced the funding on a visit to Urban Roots in Glasgow, which will receive £72,000 to set up four community garden hubs.

Projects are funded if they demonstrate how they can tackle poverty and promote social inclusion within communities.

Mr Neil said: “Every community in Scotland has different challenges and aspirations and there is no one-size fits all approach to tackling poverty.

“That’s why our People and Communities Fund is giving communities the power and confidence to shape their own futures and address inequalities more effectively.

“The fund allows community groups the chance to identify problems in their area and the funding to provide solutions.

“Since the Fund launched in 2012, we have seen the real difference it is making by empowering communities to deliver new skills, training and volunteering projects that fit local priorities. This £12.6 million will give more communities more of a voice.”

Urban Roots received £170,000 from the People and Communities Fund between 2012-15 to develop community gardens, growing spaces, local clean-ups, biodiversity improvements, recycling and cycling projects. These initiatives have helped build skills locally.

Les Rice from Urban Roots said: “The People and Communities Fund has enabled Urban Roots to set up community gardens in numerous locations across the Southside of Glasgow, empowering local communities by improving their physical health and mental wellbeing, reducing food poverty and increasing employability prospects through training and skills sharing.

“The People and Communities Fund allocation for 2015/16 will allow these communities to build on the previous three years’ hard work by expanding the services offered at four key locations in Priesthill, Castlemilk, Toryglen and East Pollokshields.

“These new community resilience hubs will be spaces for action, inspiration and learning, and will help tackle poverty and promote social inclusion.”

Source: Third Force News


Mull community hydro gets green light

Green Energy Mull (GEM) is to complete construction of its first community hydroelectricity scheme after securing a loan from an ethical lender.

The community development organisation managed to secure a £500,000 loan from Charity Bank on top of £450,000 raised through a community share offer and £450,000 from Scottish Enterprise’s Renewable Energy Investment Fund.

The 400KW small-scale scheme, which is scheduled to open in spring 2015, is being built on the Allt Achadh na Moine burn in the Garmony Forest on the Isle of Mull, on a 40 year lease under Forestry Commission Scotland’s National Forest Land Scheme.

Expected to generate more than 1,000MWh of electricity annually, sufficient to power 280 homes, the scheme will reduce the island’s carbon footprint by 450 tonnes.

Conceived by Sustainable Mull & Iona and Mull and Iona Community Trust, the project received overwhelming majority support in a local community ballot.

This led to the formation of Green Energy Mull - a community benefit company.

Investors have equal voting powers irrespective of the size of their investment and all net profits will be invested in the local community through the charitable Waterfall Fund.

The management of GEM will remain in the control of the local community.

Moray Finch, chairman of GEM, said: “We are grateful for the work that Charity Bank has put in to make this important project happen. 

“We are hoping to complete the project and commission the scheme early in 2015. 

"Charity Bank – a social enterprise itself – was set up to finance social sector organisations like ours and has a long history of lending on the island.”

Derek Mackay MSP, islands minister, said: “The Garmony Hydro Project is an impressive venture – with the ability to power 280 homes once complete – and will be a real asset to the Isle of Mull. Through Green Energy Mull, it is estimated that over the first 20 years of the life of the project, the scheme will generate a turnover of over £5 million, with net proceeds of up to £2.4 million going into the Waterfall Fund for a variety of projects that will benefit the community.

He added: “Organisations like Green Energy Mull are an important part of defining our distinctive approach to Scotland’s future energy provision by providing vital learning across extremely challenging areas, such as adding value to local economies, matching local supply and demand, and addressing fuel poverty.”

Charity Bank has previously lent to the Mull Fishermens’ Association to restore its pier at Tobermory and Mull and Iona Community Trust to acquire premises for the former Mull Butcher’s Shop. 

The bank is currently lending to the Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust, enabling it to make essential repairs to its visitor centre.

Source: Third Force News



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