Community fails to be engaged

ORGANISERS of the special community engagement events in Maybole and Girvan have declared their satisfaction with their work - despite an overall disappointing turnout from local residents.

Over 40 organisations took stalls at a special community engagement event in Maybole Town Hall last Wednesday afternoon and in Girvan on Monday at the Carrick Buildings.

The event was part of a pilot project in a new approach to community engagement with the intention of giving local people in Carrick the chance to find out what the partnership is doing in the area, to celebrate the achievements of local communities and highlight issues for the partnership and community to address.

The “marketplace” of stalls, agency representatives and local organisations was arranged by South Ayrshire Community Planning Partnership which includes representatives from South Ayrshire Council, NHS Ayrshire & Arran, Strathclyde Police, Strathclyde Fire and Rescue as well as other agencies, the voluntary sector and the community.

In the evening, Councillor Bill McIntosh, Leader of South Ayrshire Council, hosted group discussions and a question and answer session.

David Kiltie, chairman of Maybole Community Council and the community representative for Carrick on the Community Planning Partnership, said that despite the low turnout there was a positive response for many of the groups who turned up.

He said: “The turnout this afternoon was relatively low with the dreadful weather a contributory factor, no doubt.

“However, all the projects reported a good level of interest and there were around 1,750 responses to the survey carried out by Carrick Community Councils’ Forum using leaflets, and the new media of Facebook and Twitter.

“This survey highlighted six key issues throughout Carrick - improving access to affordable housing, developing employment and wealth via tourism, improving opportunities for business start-up and job creation, getting communities involved with planning and working towards their futures, making sure everyone has access to services and local facilities, and providing reasons for young people to want to stay in Carrick.”

Peter Mason, chair of Carrick Community Councils’ Forum, said he thought it was a missed opportunity for locals to get involved.

He said: “As this was a pilot scheme we made few mistakes, but on the whole it was a very successful afternoon and evening.

“It’s just a shame that more people didn’t take the opportunity to express their views on what the future of South Ayrshire should be as there were heads of service, the Leader of the council and the Chief Executive in attendance.

“In the afternoon there were various stalls from the Fire Department, debt counselling, plus Care and Repair where pensioners can have simple jobs done in their homes at no cost to themselves.

“The community lost out on a golden opportunity to take full advantage of these excellent resources, and at night missed the opportunity to put their point of view over to South Ayrshire Council on what the community’s priorities are.

“I would like to thank the Council, the Leader, the Chief Executive and every SAC employee who attended for their help and assistance.”

Councillor Brian Connolly, who chairs the Council’s scrutiny panel which oversees the community engagement project, commented, “Although a pilot, tonight showed the constructive relationship between Maybole and its community partners and we will continue to work together for the good of town.”

After hearing what locals had to say, Councillor Leader Bill McIntosh, Chair of South Ayrshire Community Planning Partnership, believed the event to very worthwhile.

He said: “We wanted to make sure that local people had the chance to have their say on the topics that relate to our Partnership working, and highlight where we’re getting it right as well as where we could do better.

“Events such as these, which involve representatives from right across the Partnership, give us the chance to highlight the extensive joint working that takes place on a daily basis as well as recognise the input and involvement of the communities themselves.

“I’m looking forward to hearing the details of what the discussions tonight have given us.”