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Community Project pioneered in the Cairngorms National Park recognised by Scottish Government

3rd July 2009

A successful project pioneered in the Cairngorms National Park to match rural communities with the services they need has been recognised at the highest level.

The ‘Our Community a Way Forward’ scheme has been selected by the Scottish Government as one of 10 nationwide projects demonstrating the best way of engaging with communities.

The project was developed by the Cairngorms National Park Authority (CNPA) with the Badenoch and Strathspey Community Planning Partnership and implemented by Voluntary Action in Badenoch and Strathspey (VABS) and the Highland and Aberdeenshire Councils. It will now be used to develop a national programme to develop best practice for community engagement throughout Scotland.

‘Our Community a Way Forward’  was an approach to bringing communities and agencies together, to identify issues that were important to them. The initial idea came from the Badenoch and Strathspey Community Planning Partnership, of which CNPA is a member, and a pilot scheme involving the communities of Grantown-on-Spey, Cromdale, Dulnain and Advie was set up.

This was supported by Cairngorms Local Action group EU LEADER funding of £87,000, the CNPA (£64,000), Highlands and Islands Enterprise (£20,000) and Highland Council (£30,000), with VABS also providing financial support, staffing and management.

The communities of Grantown, Cromdale, Dulnain and Advie came up with ideas they were keen to progress and the lessons learned from their discussions served to create a ‘community action planning toolkit’.

This was subsequently used in the ‘Ballater One Voice Our Future’ project (BOVOF), which has received tremendous local feedback through a series of meetings and questionnaires.

The ‘Our Community a Way Forward’ scheme fits in well with Scottish Government ‘outcomes’ of ‘supporting resilient communities’, encouraging vibrant democracy, increasing engagement in voluntary activity and public life, and in community planning

David Green, convener of the CNPA, said: “I am delighted that our partnership approach to community engagement has received this accolade. We have made a real effort to support our communities by linking the grass roots into the community planning partnerships with the help of the local voluntary sector as well as providing resources for quick wins.

“Communities can see results on the ground and this will help them becomes more resilient in line with Scottish Government outcomes. ”

The Highland Council Convener Sandy Park said: “We are pleased to have been involved in such an innovative consultation scheme which has already helped meet the needs of some of our rural communities and will no doubt help meet the needs of others in future.”

Leader of Aberdeenshire Council, Anne Robertson, said she was “a huge supporter” of activities which recognised the significant contribution people can make by becoming involved in their communities.

She added: “By engaging our communities with the work of public agencies we can identify solutions which meet local needs and I believe this project will set the standard for all community engagement activity in future.”

Representatives from the various organisations noted the success of the scheme at the annual Cairngorms National Park Strategy Group meet today (Friday July 3) at Boat of Garten Community Hall.

The meeting will take stock of progress towards the outcomes set in the National Park Plan, consider the challenges emerging and establish a clear focus on the priorities and opportunities to guide work towards these outcomes in the remaining time to 2012.

It is now over two years since the Cairngorms National Park Plan Strategy Group met to approve the first Cairngorms National Park Plan which was subsequently approved by Scottish Ministers in March 2007.

That means it is mid-way in the five year delivery of the outcomes collectively set out to deliver in the National Park by 2012.

This is the first step in a mid-term review of delivery of the National Park Plan.