West Lothian community wealth plans may become just a ‘talking shop’ – Edinburgh Live

Plans to empower communities across West Lothian will just be a “talking shop” unless changes are made to existing land sale policies, a Livingston councillor has said.

Attending the inaugural meeting of the Economy, Community Empowerment and Wealth Building Policy Development and Scrutiny Panel, (PDSP) Councillor Andrew Miller (SNP) said that if the council was serious about developing community empowerment it would have to give more consideration of community benefit to land sales.

He described two recent instances in north Livingston, including a bid from the Edinburgh Monarchs to locate a new speedway stadium in the town, where he felt that community benefit was treated as secondary to purely financial considerations.

READ MORE: Edinburgh Monarchs lose West Lothian site for speedway stadium plans

The land the Monarchs wanted for a new stadium was instead sold to a higher bid for industrial development. Earlier in the year the former council owned Carmondean Library was sold to a martial arts school. It still sits empty awaiting redevelopment.

The council, as a public body, has a duty to get the best value from the sale of land and assets.

The new PDSP heard outline of plans to develop community wealth building as a core council policy.

The principle involves the council working with business and government agencies to support their local economies, ensuring that wealth is locally retained and benefits local people. It has developed as a response to economic development, which moves away from the traditional approaches to economic development and an assumption that if the economy grows it will create wealth for all.

In her report Clare Stewart, Community Wealth Building Manager, said: “The Community Wealth Building approach offers an opportunity to build resilience within the local economy and presents an opportunity to contribute to the empowerment of communities. It promotes working in partnership with communities, key partners and businesses to build a strong and resilient local economy which supports fair work, encourages local spend and uses land and property for the common good.”

One of the five pillars of the new policy is: “Socially productive use of land and property – ensuring assets are owned and managed in ways which ensure that they generate wealth for local citizens.”

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Council officers are currently working on developing the community wealth building plans and more details will be presented in November.

Councillor Miller said he wanted clarity that the plan did not …….

Source: https://www.edinburghlive.co.uk/news/west-lothian-community-wealth-plans-25064501