A look forward to the year ahead

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Sub-heading: 2020 New Year message from North Ayrshire Council leader Joe Cullinane

The last 12 months was another rollercoaster year and no doubt there will be further twists and turns ahead.

It looks like Brexit, after months of chaos, will now happen and that will bring with it a degree of uncertainty for communities across the country.

The delay in the UK and Scottish budget is a concern at a time when council officers are estimating a £17million budget gap next year. After a decade of cuts, which has saw £102million removed from North Ayrshire Council’s budget, a budget gap of this size would be devastating for local services and jobs.

So, while we don’t know exactly what 2020 will bring us, what I can say is that the council will be redoubling our efforts to bring positive change to North Ayrshire within the resources we have.

And despite the clear challenges there is a lot to be optimistic about.

Having successfully secured £250 million for the local economy through the Ayrshire Growth Deal, we are working hard to make sure this investment will benefit people and communities across Ayrshire.

We cannot simply spend the money and expect things to improve – that old model of inward investment has not delivered the transformational change that it so often promises.

We’ve pursued this traditional approach to economic development for decades and it hasn’t worked for the people of North Ayrshire – the investment simply does not trickle down to people and communities.

Instead, we must ensure that this time the investment lands in Ayrshire for the benefit of our people and communities.

For some time now, North Ayrshire Council has been leading change on the local economic front, developing a new approach to economic development called Community Wealth Building.

And we believe Community Wealth Building has the potential to reconnect the local economy with economic and social justice, putting fair work at the heart of the local economy and supporting alternative, more inclusive forms of business ownership.

Through Community Wealth Building we will use the economic levers available to us, including the hundreds of millions of pounds the public sector in Ayrshire spends each year, to build the Ayrshire economy from the ground up.

And we will seek to use the Ayrshire Growth Deal as a £250 million Community Wealth Building opportunity, creating high-wage, high skilled jobs available to local people and ensure that the investment is truly transformational for Ayrshire.

We’ve seen the benefits which Community Wealth Building has brought to areas like Preston in Lancashire and the people who live there. It has never been delivered in Scotland so we will be at the forefront of this new way of creating an economy which works for the many.

We’ll be working hard on Community Wealth Building over the next 12 months and I look forward to seeing the progress we make.

The council will continue to deliver the most ambitious council house building programme in the country with 340 new council homes either in construction or to be completed in 2020/21.

Our investment in schools will continue including the construction of the new ASN campus in Stevenston.

And 2020 will be the year that we set out our plans to tackle the climate emergency with a pathway to becoming a net-zero council.

Finally, as we enter 2020, I would like to wish you and your loved ones the very best wishes for the New Year.

Joe Cullinane,

Leader of North Ayrshire Council.

Council Leader Joe Cullinane will be taking forward Community Wealth Building plans in 2020. He is pictured with Neil McInroy of the centre for local economic strategies, Councillor Alex Gallagher, council chief executive Craig Hatton, and head of economic development and regeneration Caitriona McAuley. NO_B52wealth01