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SB Connect Winter 2016

Public asked to help shape property plans

Residents and community groups across the Borders are being invited to get involved in planning how publicly owned land and buildings can be used more efficiently and effectively.

The Scottish Borders Community Planning Partnership (CPP) – which includes the Council, NHS Borders, Police Scotland, Scottish Fire and Rescue and Scottish Enterprise, among other organisations – is using a series of events over the winter to launch discussions ahead of the development of property plans for each of the five Borders localities.

Events have already taken place in the Cheviot area, with public meetings held in Jedburgh and Kelso in October. Similar events are being planned for Berwickshire, Eildon, Teviot & Liddesdale and Tweeddale.

For the Council, the development of property plans ties in with the Corporate Transformation programme, which is aimed at delivering a programme of change and improvement throughout the Council and into the community.

This includes considering carefully how SBC can continue to deliver high-quality services while faced with an ongoing financial challenge and reduced resources.

The discussions are in line with the new Community Empowerment Act which aims to strengthen community involvement in the planning and delivery of services.

Councillor David Parker, Leader of Scottish Borders Council and Chair of the CPP Strategic Board, said: “One of the main aspects of the Community Empowerment Act is the right for community bodies to request to buy, lease, manage or use land and buildings that belong to public organisations.

“The Act requires all public services, along with voluntary organisations, to work more closely with communities to improve local services, address local needs and make the best use of increasingly scarce resources. This legislation arrives at the same time as Community Planning Partners are looking at how they can use their land and buildings more efficiently and effectively.

“These events will give people the chance to discuss land and buildings in their area before the plans are put together, which gives them a real say in the process.”

At the events , the legislation and the opportunities and challenges facing public bodies and communities will be considered, as well as the type of land and property owned by CPP members.

Councillor Parker added: “Issues to be discussed include what we are doing well in terms of the use of public buildings. We also want to know where people think we should prioritise when it comes to properties and land, how communities could play a role in running facilities and what support they would need if taking over or buying buildings and land for community use.”