The NICE AGM was attended by around 60 people many having already read the Feasibility Study proposals for the old Social Work Building. A number of searching questions were taken from the floor and at the end of the meeting there was unanimous support for moving forward to the next stage – with warmly supported expressions such as “Long overdue” and “Get on with it!”
NICE Chairman’s Report 2013
This has been an exciting year for NICE as a Scottish Charity and Community Body.
We have been asked to demonstrate our capabilities by delivering one major project. The development of the old social work building was the obvious first choice. After wide consultation we are tonight presenting our excellent feasibility study. We will now move, working in close co-operation with Highland Council to deliver a business plan in acceptable form to their Asset Management Project Board, seeking approval within 3 months. This is a solid amount of work and I would like to thank in particular Mike Barnett for managing the production of this business plan and ensuring the quality of its content.
The major proposal is for a ‘Gateway Visitor Attraction’. Simply put, if we move from 5000 visitors in our existing visitor centre to a realistic 100,000 reached in smaller highland tourist towns we will generate more spend in Nairnshire to the benefit of local jobs and our tourists. We will have spent £500,000 on upgrading this lovely building in such a prominent and visually important site. This again will provide more local jobs, both in construction and retail.
NICE was set up to prioritise the needs of Greater Nairnshire. We live in a competitive financial environment and large payments for example by HIE to Forres and Inverness makes it hard for Nairnshire to compete. This is widely understood and accepted as the fundamental reason for setting up NICE. If you look back at our Vision Paper we have seen major developments in several of the problem areas we highlighted. Here I stress NICE was set up to facilitate and stimulate not to do everything on our own. Progress is our aim and we are seeing changes such as the old community centre, petrol station, Regal, bus station, Corsee, Barron House and Links school. I am sure that the 4 local councillors welcome that local focus and achievement.
Locality planning with a new emphasis on locality capacity is the way forward. The favoured NICE model is for NICE directors to be non –executive and employ professional staff to rebuild community capacity .We can also develop trading subsidiaries or social enterprise companies backed by the NICE Board but with a lot of freedom to develop .We feel this is the best way of harnessing the huge amount of voluntary support in Nairnshire without overexposing the willing few.
NICE is committed to Fair Share allocations from Local Authority, Health Board and HIE. ‘Place Worth’ is a simple concept where we all should know the total Nairnshire income and the percentage spent locally and therefore what is leaving Nairnshire. We want to increase our local spend and control. In doing so we believe we will achieve better value for money, more and better local jobs and above all a much greater Nairnshire Common Good in its widest sense.
In conclusion I would like to thank all my fellow directors and our helpers for all their hard work.
I thank our 1050 members for all their support and ideas. In a Scottish context this is seen as massive and valuable support and evidence of real community backing for NICE. Our membership team will be back working to increase the membership over the next 3 months as this greatly strengthens our position and opens even more exciting doors. I am looking forward to next year’s progress report with a real confidence in Nairnshire’s ability to lead the way in developing sustainable working practices for our future developments.