“We have opportunities, we have plans in place, we have ambitions and we have ideas. We have everything we need to succeed. Let’s get started, let’s do this now.”
These were the uplifting words of Argyll and Bute Council Leader, Councillor Dick Walsh, at a Full Partnership meeting of the Community Planning Partnership held last week at Machrihanish Airbase in Campbeltown.
Over 90 representatives from public and private sector organisations from across Argyll and Bute gathered for the “Moving Forward Together” meeting of the Full Partnership, including Marco Biagi MSP, Minister for Local Government and Community Empowerment who delivered a speech about the Community Empowerment Act.
Other key speakers included Nicholas Ferguson, chair of the Economic Forum, who provided attendees with an update on the progress of the Economic Forum. This private-sector driven initiative grew as a result of last year’s successful Economic Summit in Dunoon.The conference was focussed on building on actions already being taken by the Council and its partners to develop and grow Argyll and Bute’s economy of opportunity.
One example of this is the town centre regeneration projects which are taking place in Campbeltown, Helensburgh, Oban, Rothesay and Dunoon. This multi-million pound initiative by the Council will see major improvements to the town centres and waterfronts of all five towns.
The Council has a close partnership with Highlands and Island’s Enterprise and Stuart Robertson, Director of Digital Highlands and Islands HIE, was also in attendance to talk about overcoming the barriers of broadband in the area.
John Kelly of EKOS highlighted findings of the recent ‘Compelling Argyll and Bute’ study and speakers from the Council and NHS Highland provided an update on Prevention: The Early Years Collaborative.
Those in attendance were also given the opportunity to take an active part in a number of breakout sessions throughout the day. These focussed on various subjects including health and social care integration, participatory budgeting and co-production.
Talking about the day, Councillor Walsh said, “The spirit of positivity – of moving forward together – is much, much more than a title or a theme. Here in Argyll and Bute it is, quite simply, how we think and what we do. Community planning is all about having ambition, and sharing and developing this in our communities. For Argyll and Bute our main ambition is to grow our population and economy. Everyone has a part to play in this – working together to build a strong, prosperous and vibrant Argyll and Bute.
“We have already made amazing progress at bringing together the Council, NHS, emergency services, other public sector organisations, the private sector, third sector and our communities to see delivery of the Community Planning Partnership’s Single Outcome Agreement (SOA). The SOA has at its core a very clear, shared objective – bringing more people and more jobs to Argyll and Bute and doing it together. This offers an incredibly strong foundation to build upon, not just today but every day as we go about our business.”
Councillor Walsh continued, “Making it happen is not about one of us, but about all of us. Working together in unity, in partnership both inside our own organisations and outside with others, will help us achieve the common goal each one of us here shares.
“We are backing Argyll and Bute and we know that others are alongside us, backing us and supporting us too. We are about strength in numbers and today, assembled here together, have considerable expertise, skills, knowledge and commitment to making good things happen in and for Argyll and Bute.”