Note of Public Meeting Held on Monday 23rd July at Lismore Public Hall

The meeting was held in order to give the Lismore community the chance to discuss how best to seize the available funding opportunities, in order to enhance the quality of life on the island and to secure the future sustainability of our community. Lismore Community Council hosted the meeting, in order to start the discussion process, because it is the body that is tasked with finding out and representing the community’s views to the Council and external agencies. The Community Council is initiating the discussions but does not intend to take ownership of anything that might come out of the discussions.

As Chair of the Community Council, John Carmichael chaired the meeting. He gave a brief explanation of the purpose of the meeting then introduced the PowerPoint presentation, which was delivered by Mandie Currie.  

click here for presentation note: click mouse to move through screens

a paper copy is also available for viewing in the shop, or alternatively, contact Mandie for either an E mailed or paper copy.

These discussions on future funding for the island have arisen as a result of the Hall Committee’s past experiences in redeveloping the Hall and their recent investigations into funding options. It is fairly clear that a multi-functional building will be more likely to attract any significant levels of funding and that any potential funding bodies would wish to see clear evidence of collaboration within the community and linkages between a Hall development and other projects or initiatives taking place on the island. This has highlighted the need for a wider view of funding for Lismore.

The presentation covered the following points:

Various projects or initiatives are being suggested or considered for the island, such as wind farms and there are many issues of concern on the island, such as the lack of out of hours nursing cover. Lots of opportunities exist to draw in funding and develop new projects. Many other communities are taking full advantage of all this funding but to date, Lismore has been approaching this in a piecemeal way, with different groups doing their own thing, and not really speaking to each other or working together effectively.

Most funding streams now focus on projects and initiatives that integrate a range of interests. They must be inclusive, and involve as many people in the community as possible. They require groups to take an overview of the impacts of any projects on the wider community – with analysis/review of overlaps or linkages with other projects/activities

We (the community) need to take a comprehensive look at all the options for the island and to have a more co-ordinated approach to planning, developing and managing projects. A wide range of funding opportunities exist that Lismore, as a community, could benefit from but in order to access these funds for the benefit of the whole community, this needs to be done in a co-ordinated way.

The community needs to see the bigger picture and the whole community needs to have more of a say on what happens on the island. Any groups that are representing the island need to be open, transparent, inclusive and consistent. Similarly, any projects, programmes or initiatives that are delivered on the island must be fully open to scrutiny. There needs to be better joint working on the island – between groups on the island and with other community organisations and agencies/external bodies.

No groups currently exist on the island that can develop a strategic overview for the island; represent the island at a high level or draw in funding from strategic sources and co-ordinate the efforts of everyone currently working on sourcing funding for the island. The Community Council does exist to find out and represent the needs/views of the community, it can apply for grants and employ people, but it cannot generate income, i.e. do business. The Hall Committee, Community Transport Group and Heritage Society have their specific areas of interest but could not develop projects or do business across the whole spectrum of issues that affect the island today – such as health, housing, economic development etc. The presentation then outlined a proposal for establishing a Community Development Trust for Lismore.

The concept of a Development Trust for the island has been discussed informally in the past by various members of the community and the recent issues with Hall funding prompted the suggestion that we organise a public meeting to discuss the issues and possible options for the island. The presentation went on to describe what a Development Trust is; its purpose, structure and functions; how it would be governed by the community; examples of Community Development Trusts that exist elsewhere, the types of things that they have achieved and the types of funding sources that are available to such a Trust.  

The proposal is that we establish a Lismore Community Development Trust that enables all members of the community to be involved equally. The Trust would have a Board of Directors, which would consist of as many community members as possible (everyone on the island, if this is legally possible); all meetings would be held in public, with minutes of all meetings circulated to all households and placed on the website. Clear procedures would be agreed and circulated to all community members, outlining the circumstances when the Directors could make decisions and when decisions would be made by the community as a whole. Mechanisms would be established to enable all members of the community to vote on key decisions, for example, by a show of hands in a meeting or by a poll/referendum. If suitable ways of doing this could be found that weren’t too unwieldy, and wouldn’t result in the Trust taking too long to reach decisions or take action, then potentially, all activities agreed/decisions made would be done by the whole community together, with everyone having an equal say. We could even use this mechanism to gather feedback from everyone before responding to consultations from the Scottish Executive and so on. The Trust would be separate from, and would not oversee or be responsible for, any of the existing bodies on the island but it would work in partnership with them. The Trust would provide an overview & strategic direction for the community; it could help to draw in funding in a more strategic, co-ordinated way and could therefore access wider funding packages than any of the existing bodies alone. An initial task would be to prepare a 5 or 10 year Development Plan for the island – this is essential, as strategic funding bodies now require a Community Development Plan.

Some of the projects that Development Trusts elsewhere have achieved include: workshops; business centres with office space, video conferencing facilities and administrative support; branding/marketing local produce; festivals/shows/events programmes; affordable housing; renewable energy projects; harbours/marinas; leisure/sport facilities and supporting local business start-ups. These are just examples - what we could do on Lismore is only limited by our ambition and our ability to work together as a community.

The meeting agreed that a Community Development Trust for the island was a good idea. A detailed discussion then followed on how such a Trust might be structured and governed and what its role and functions would be.

It was agreed that a Working Group would be established to look at the various options for the island and to report back to a further public meeting; a decision on whether or not to proceed with setting up a Trust would then be made by the community. The role of the Working Group would be to gather information and prepare a report with recommendations, based on evidence and examples from elsewhere - it would not have any decision making responsibilities or powers. The group’s activities should include:

·         Finding out more about Development Trusts that have been established by communities elsewhere (many exist in Argyll); what they have achieved; how they got started and how they are structured and governed

·         Investigate the possible constitutions for Community Development Organisations and identify the model that would best suit Lismore community’s needs

·         Identify and describe the benefits and dis-benefits of setting up a Community Development Trust on Lismore

·         Outline the options for bringing in funding to Lismore in a strategic and co-ordinated way – i.e. the various types of Trusts that could be set up, or different ways that the existing bodies on Lismore might work together without setting up a Trust

·         Prepare recommendations on the preferred option(s)

·         Circulate a report to all households and then present this at a public meeting on Lismore. 

It was agreed that the size of the Working Group should be flexible, but aiming for no more than about 12 people or so, otherwise the group would be too large to get anything meaningful done.  Anyone interested in being part of the Working Group should put their name on a list, which will be available at Lismore Stores until Saturday 11th August. If too many people come forward, then the group will agree a democratic way of selecting numbers. However, it was stressed at the meeting that, as the aim is to establish a way of empowering everyone on the island to have an equal say in community projects and developments, then everyone will ultimately get the chance to have their say and to be involved.     

As outlined earlier, a copy of the presentation will be available on the website, or by E mail or paper copy from Mandie Currie. A copy will also be available in the shop. Please, take the time to think about this - get involved in the Working Group if you are interested; or come along to the next public meeting. The future of the island will depend on everyone working together, so please get involved!

The following people attended the meeting: Julien Wormleighton, Carol Wormleighton, Chris Small, Bob Hay, Neil Carmichael, Cathie Carmichael, Tony Baker, Dave Ramsden, Davie Meddes, Alison Maclean, Anna Stewart, Gilly Dixon-Spain, Pauline Rowling, Sarah Campbell, Mairi Perkins, Tony Perkins, Roger Dixon-Spain, Liz Buckle, Jeremy Gilchrist, Ian MacKinnon, Marlene MacKinnon, Jennifer Baker, John MacCormick, Archie McGillivray, Jim MacCormick, Norma Black, Duncan Brooks, Janette Stewart, Teenie Wilson, David Wilson, Ann Campbell, John Livingstone, Dorothy Livingstone, Jenny Aynsley, Charlie Jack, Jennifer Baker, Johnny McFadyen, Gillesbeag Black, John Carmichael, Mandie Currie. Apologies to anyone who has been missed from this list!  

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