PROTESTORS: WE CAN STILL BRING ABOUT CHANGE
Protestors who fought unsuccessfully to save Gilbertfield from development have set out how they hope to influence other planning decisions in the future.
Planning permission was granted for 386 houses to be built on Gilbertfield last month, despite fierce opposition in the local community.
But at a special meeting co-hosted by Halfway and Cambuslang community councils, residents set out three areas in which they believed they could force change.
These include scrutinising the next local development plan to ensure sensitive areas are not designated for development; using the Community Empowerment Act to ensure the council actively engages with community groups and encouraging more people to become involved in community campaigns and lending their skills, when required, to community councils.
Stephen Towill, who led the fight against the Persimmon Homes development, said these actions were vital to ensure Cambuslang reflects the wishes of residents.
He said:“There is more land up for development, it doesn’t end at Gilbertfield. At the meeting we discussed getting people involved in community councils because when these things happen we are low on bodies [to campaign]. You don’t need to sit on the community council, you could be there and offer advice and people might have skills that could be brought in.
“If there are enough people willing to get involved they can bring about change.”
Jackie Rinn, secretary of Halfway Community Council, which proposed the joint meeting, added: “The meeting went very, very well. There was a consensus the community councils should work hand in hand to ensure the people of Cambuslang are listened to.
“Both councils are looking forward to the introduction of the Community Empowerment Act, which, we hope, will provide a framework in which issues, such as the Gilbertfield development, are spoken about at length with the community before they are decided upon.”
The act aims to empower community bodies by strengthening their voices in decisions about public services.
It specifically states community bodies should be involved in all stages of community planning.
John Bachtler, treasurer of Cambuslang Community Council, said: “The Community Empowerment Act, which has been passed but still to be implemented, is something we would like to see accelerated.
“It is important this is not seen as something that has to be done because of the legislation, but as good practice. After May we would like to see a new approach to working with South Lanarkshire Council.”