Dalkeith Hub community workshop discussion

Wednesday July 22nd 2015

Dalkeith - Jarnac Court

Article by Bill Kerr-Smith, Chair Eskbank & Newbattle Community Council

An open meeting was held at Dalkeith Arts Centre, Thursday 2nd July, to discuss, amongst other things, how to enlarge the working group that had been set up following the earlier meeting in February, progress that had been made in the intervening period and how to organise to take the project forward.

The meeting was open to anyone who was interested, but invitations were specifically sent out to everyone who had provided contact details at the previous meeting and other individuals known to be active in the community. This meeting was specifically targeted to maximise community engagement and, as a consequence, no specific invitation to councillors or council officers had been issued.

Confirming the conclusions from earlier consultation.

In addition to the views expressed at the public meeting, the working group has run an online survey to gather further views from the public on all issues related to the Hub. The numbers participating so far are not large, but overall they have increased the base of consultation by about 30% and the views expressed have been very significantly in line with those expressed at the meeting.

These views were represented by three main themes which, in the view of the working group, were as follows:

  • A desire for more, and better, community facilities.
  • An aspiration to create a vibrant Civic Centre for the town of Dalkeith and the surrounding communities.
  • The need to enable greater Community cohesion.

Because it’s essential that proposals are developed based on a community consensus, the floor was opened for debate on whether or not these themes were a sufficient and accurate representation of community aspirations. Most of the discussion centred around the meaning or implications of the statements, but it was clear that there was very strong agreement that these themes did represent the general aims of the movement to create a Hub for Dalkeith and the surrounding communities. The themes were therefore agreed as guidance for future action.

What next?

Participants formed into groups to hold more focused discussions and generate ideas about what issues the working group should address going forward:

  1. Ensure there is widespread public consultation before plans are set in stone.
  2. It’s essential that the Hub is central, i.e. part of Jarnac Court redevelopment
  3. A Development Trust should be set up to progress the project – and it should demand to be involved in Midlothian Council’s current plans for town centre redevelopment.
  4. The Community needs to be given an opportunity to make input to the brief, developed by Midlothian Council, for the Dalkeith Town Centre Feasibility Study.
  5. It would be helpful to tap into the experience of other, local, Development Trusts.
  6. An important aspect of wider consultation is getting out onto the streets and talking to people.
  7. Consider placing banners in strategic locations
  8. Collaboration with the Coalfields Regeneration Trust was suggested as an early source of funding.
  9. Emphasis was again stressed on not limiting the kind of facilities we aspire to. “Go for everything”.
  10. Keep in mind that we need to plan for the next generation.
  11. It was suggested that we might involve Pupil Councils at schools.
  12. There might be an interest from sponsors of Sheltered Housing or Care Homes.
  13. Aim to start, initially, with a shop on the High Street as a base for rallying support and promoting the cause.
  14. Talk to MVA about appropriate organisations and structure – also as a potential source of other partners.

Who else should we talk to?

An initial set of suggestions for additional partners was as follows:

  • Sure Start
  • British Legion
  • British Red Cross
  • Veterans Group
  • Old Folks Welfare
  • Business Groups.

Proposed Organisation

The working group suggested that the best way to make progress from now might be to form a Development Trust for this purpose and to decide on the specific nature of the ultimate legal entity after wider consultation. The working group will consider the options and present them for debate at a future meeting.

Next Steps

The working group will summarise the findings of the meeting (this note) and will then proceed to take the appropriate steps to recruit additional members, develop guidance on organisation and structure, and develop wider consultation. A further workshop will be held in late August or September.

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