PROTESTORS: WE CAN STILL BRING ABOUT CHANGE

Rutherglen Reformer - - News - Edel Ke­nealy

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.”

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