I am sure that most people will agree that it is a relief to see the sun eventually set upon 2020. It has been a terrible year and I do not want to dwell to long on the tragedy and social disruption that has impacted upon us all in so many different ways. It is a real body blow therefore to start the new year with a further upsurge in the new mutant COVID virus and it appears we are moving in reverse and potentially retuning to the total lockdown of March 2020. There are reasons though that gives us a real sense of hope this time, vaccines are getting rolled out, the schools are better prepared for delivering effective distance learning and our community networks of resilience and support are better organised and coordinated. We know what is required and we know what we need to do to get us through to the spring when the sun will rise once more. The social and physical environment will come back to life and our community will once again thrive. In many respects this is a challenge of time and patience and I believe the knowledge, skills and experiences of the last 12 months will enable us to secure a better future and build a stronger self-reliant community. This is not to overlook the role and responsibility of government both local and national in facilitating and resourcing our new aspirations and we will need to work collaboratively to address the social and economic problems of poverty, inequality, and the climate emergency. I nevertheless hope and believe that we can build a better community once we pull ourselves up and out from the destruction of COVID. An opportunity has presented itself for us to go about community in a different way, with different priorities and a fresher realisation of what is important to us and what is not. We must ensure that our Health Service is fully resourced and supported, a new Care service that is run for the community and acknowledges the real worth of the care workers that are employed within that sector, all our social services and education provisions become top of the class and we all work together to create a sustainable green economy which serves the commonweal for the benefit of us all. Lockdown provided a glimpse into a different world so let’s see if we can kick the door open and move through into the beginning of a new approach with a new set of agreed societal priorities.
I want to briefly highlight some of the new projects that I will be developing and supporting through 2021 and which will have a focus upon keeping our community safe, supportive, and progressive.
- Community Art projects and pop-up parks, there are a number of locations where these projects can be developed, improving our landscapes, and reducing anti-social behaviour. Encouraging local ownership and the involvement of the local schools, tenants, and community groups.
- A canal clear up and improvement of the tow path and safe usage of the different resources and opportunities that the canal can provide. Water sports, angling, walking groups and an improved safer tow path for everybody to use and enjoy.
- #Tidycleangreen with regular litter picks, conservation work and community fun days
- Support the further improvement of Easter Carmuirs Park with the introduction of a new safer MUGA, better play equipment with lighting and shelters, organised sports and recreational activities run in the park
- The Mariners month, a celebration of our local community involving all the local groups and agencies, I am hoping that we will have a new community broadcasting project up and running and being launched for the month of activities and celebrations.
- Examining the practicalities of a new recovery café and volunteering project for those in recovery from the terrible impacts of addictions and to provide a safe and supportive social space for them with their families and friends.
- I hope to be able to work with Easter Carmuirs Parent Council and introduce a Pocket places and a school streets pilot project, a first for the Falkirk council area.
- Support the formation of new community groups with my colleague Dan including the community growing projects. There is the potential to support new areas of work around community safety initiatives in the Bantaskine area.
- Through listening to and working with our local young people develop new youth provisions and learning opportunities within their own communities and peer groups.
This is not just a wish list of activities, much of the groundwork for these projects has begun and they will all form significant strands of the local community safety strategy. At this time, I cannot give specific details but every one of the above projects has been discussed and partners have indicated a willingness to make them happen. As always, the community must be at the centre of these ideas and their success is reliant upon their relevance and appropriateness to the aspirations of local people their families and the wider neighbourhood.