Sustainability of local businesses, opportunities for employment and provision of new, economically viable local services are three important ingredients to rural regeneration. Villages in Control (VIC), a community consortium of business and professional parties, has recently pursued economic rural regeneration in the Howe of the Mearns (Kincardineshire, Aberdeenshire)—with funding from an Encompass Kick Start Award. The project has been led by Medlock Organic Trading as representative of VIC and Dr Karen McArdle from the School of Education of the University of Aberdeen.
The project continued a process of economic development by researching the aspirations of the local community through a scoping study using a questionnaire and interview discussions with local community activists.
A particular interest was placed in the viability of Community Asset Transfer (CAT) from Aberdeenshire Council to the local community. This has recently (September 2013) been presented to the Councillors and, if successful, it should permit a partnership approach to CAT, exactly what the community asked for.
The project has also formed the basis of the establishment of a social enterprise through a Development Trust, now empowered to establish economically viable subsidiaries with profit being reinvested in the rural community.
Tangible benefits from this project have been the production of baseline data on the aspirations for negotiation of community asset transfer and augmentation of services for the local community. This has been achieved, leading to an improvement on the quality of life for people in the Howe of the Mearns. A local website has been inaugurated for the community to communicate further with the Development Trust.
In order to establish appropriate operational systems and structures to anticipate the need for new services, the University of Aberdeen and VIC will further develop their already excellent relationship. Dr McArdle’s expertise in the process of community development and community capacity building will contribute to these processes, leading to a longer term relationship.
The commercial opportunities generated will lead to employment and generation of local income for SMEs in the local area in a context of social enterprise, thus contributing to the longer term rural regeneration.
For further information, contact
Dr Miguel Rey, Research & Innovation
Email: Miguel Rey
Tel: 01224 274157