The Scottish Community Land Network (SCLN) is a great resource for anyone involved in community development. All activities of the network are channelled through the website.
The website is updated regularly and there is an option to sign-up to receive e-bulletins. This month's highlights include:
Increase in SRDP woodland grant rates
From January 2011 some new woodland creation applications to the Scotland Rural Development Programme (SRDP) will be eligible for an additional 10% grant rate.
The extra 10% will apply to capital items (planting work, fences, gates etc) in applications that are either:
Climate challenge fund - the next installment.
The Scottish Government's Climate Challenge Fund has re-opened for a new round of applications.
Communities who plan to undertake activities between 1 April 2011 and 31 March 2012 can apply to the fund now. Applicants must be Scottish based and by the time a grant is approved they must also be legally constituted, not-for-profit community groups.
Communities who haven't previously applied to the fund need to submit a short on-line expression of interest and then complete a full application form by February 25th, 2011. Those who have applied in the past must complete a full application form by 14th February. You can find further details about the fund on the Climate Change Fund website.
Rumster's in the bag.
After a lengthy process, Latheron Lybster and Clyth Community Development Company (LLCCDC) have finally been able to take ownership of land at Rumster Forest, Caithness.
The land was acquired from Forestry Commission Scotland using the National Forest Land Scheme with HIE providing some of the funding. Match funding towards the total costs of £80,000 also came from Dounreay Site Restoration whilst the community group raised £10,000 themselves. The 40 hectare site has been clear-felled, so the group now hope to start implementing their plans to restock 70% of the area as well as create some amenity areas. They also hope to submit a planning application in the spring to put two wind turbines on the site.
Speak up for rural Scotland - what did we say?
The Scottish Government has published an analysis of the responses to their recent consultation - Speak Up for Rural Scotland.
The consultation looked at how rural Scotland could contribute to a more successful country through sustainable economic growth. It presented 37 'step changes' which the authors believe would generate innovation and activity. Responses to the consultation showed that the clear priority amongst those step changes is access to high speed broadband in all of rural Scotland. The importance of community land ownership was also highlighted as an area which required greater focus.
The analysis has been published both as a summary document and as a full report. It's not entirely clear what happens next, but you can read both the summary and full reports on the Scottish Governments website.
Community shops review
The Plunkett Foundation has published an overview of the community shop sector in the UK.
The review looks at the development of community shops and considers the health and wealth of the sector today. Some of the headline points include statistics that show community shops have a 97% survival rate, compared with a 46.8% survival rate over 5 years for UK businesses as a whole. Turnovers for shops range between £7,000 and £900,000 per annum, whilst 90% of shops use volunteers regularly, accounting for 1 million hours of labour in 2010. You can download a full copy of the report from the Plunkett Foundation's website.
Fancy a project visit?
The Rural Network has organised a series of project visits which are open to anyone in rural Scotland who is working as part of a community project in one of the following five theme:
Places are free, but numbers are limited. Applications close on February 6th, 2011. You can find further details and an on-line application form on the National Rural Network's website.
New umbrella body - Scottish Community Sector Alliance
The informal alliance known as Local People Leading has decided to develop into a formally constituted organisation known as the Scottish Community Sector Alliance.
The new group will continue to be headed by Angus Hardie, who has commented that he feels the community sector in Scotland is under-represented at present. The first priorities of the alliance will be to encourage people to recognise a distinct community sector; to develop a national strategy for the community sector; to promote collaboration and support between communities and community anchor organisations across Scotland and to encourage wider devolution of power to communities.
Founder members include organisations such as Community Energy Scotland, Senscot and the Community Woodlands Association. But at present, the list doesn't appear to include Community Land Scotland (the umbrella body formed in 2010 to represent the interests of community organisations involved in the ownership and management of land assets - see previous article ).
Read more about the new group on the Senscot website.
Second Machrihanish result
The second vote on the proposed community buyout of the Macrihanish airbase near Campbeltown has returned a 95% yes vote.
The return of some of the votes was delayed by the icy weather, but the overall results represented a response rate of just under 55%. Asked whether or not they were in favour of "... a community purchase of the former RAF Airfield Machrihanish including all airport infrastructures to the benefit of the community of postcode area PA28 6", 94.72% said yes and 5.16% said no.
You can read more about the ballot on the Machrihanish Airbase Community Company website.
Rural broadband funding
Some areas of the country look set to benefit from an improved broadband service in rural areas, after five local action groups were awarded a share of the LEADER broadband challenge fund.
The groups are in Forth Valley and Lomond, the Outer Hebrides, Orkney, South Lanarkshire and the Borders. Each area will be undertaking a range of projects including the provision of free Wi-Fi access in community facilities in the Orkney islands of Rousay, Egilsay and Wyre and the introduction of broadband access to places on Lewis, Harris and North Uist.
You can find more details on the Scottish Government's website about the various broadband projects that will be taking place using the LEADER money.
Free place on legal seminar
HIE's Community Assets team are offering free places for a seminar on the basics of community company law.
The seminar takes place in March 2011 and will be delivered by Alan Dunnipace from Senscot Legal Services. It will cover topics such as company structures, trading subsidiaries, charity registration issues, governance, employment law basics and dispute resolution. The venue will be the Seaboard Memorial Hall at Balintore and HIE will cover reasonable travel expenses. Places are limited so you should contact email@example.com if you'd like to take part.
For more information on these, and other community related articles, visit the The Scottish Community Land Network website.