Elisabeth Wilson, chair of Sustaining Dunbar, attended the annual conference of the Development Trust Association Scotland (DTAS) recently. Here’s her take on what inspiring things other development trusts are up to around Scotland.
The first weekend of September our development manager, Osbert Lancaster, and I went to the conference of the Development Trust Association Scotland (DTAS). It was the first time I had been, and I learned a lot. First, that development trusts come in all shapes and sizes. This could range from a new trust currently forming in Glasgow to combat drug abuse and involvement with gangs, to a well-established trust on an island with a purpose-built building, housing both the tourist information centre and a cafe and gathering place for local people. All the trusts are committed to sustainability in one or more forms: environmental, economic and social.
Quite a number of trusts own their own property and this encourage me that this is something Sustaining Dunbar could achieve, however it takes time. Some facilities were purpose-built, and others had been acquired and adapted. In some cases there was an element of serendipity: a suitable property suddenly became available. There was information available about the community right to buy, asset transfer from the public body (which can be possible at less than the market value) and how to negotiate for private property using the Scottish Land Fund.
I went to presentations on community transport, which made me think about the foothill villages in the Dunbar and East Linton ward, and also on Participation Requests, a new right to request dialogue with public organisations in the Empowerment Act.
There was a very engaging presentation from Beith Community Development Trust, which included an example of cheap, very effective market research. Altogether a valuable experience.