Scottish conference explores priorities for future CLLD

Montage of images from CLLD conference including stands, speakers and workshops
Alan Robertson

Last week, the Scottish Rural Network and Scottish Government Rural Communities policy team hosted a conference about the future priorities and potential for Community Led Local Development (CLLD) in Scotland.

The event, held at the Macdonald Resort in Aviemore on the 18 April, brought together a range of CLLD stakeholders from across Scotland including Local Action Group (LAG) representatives, operational delivery teams, government policy leads and community led organisations.

In advance of the conference the team hosted a networking event held on the evening of the 17th at the venue, which provided an opportunity for stakeholders to meet up in person - many for the first time in three years.  Elaine McGregor Head of Rural Communities and SRN opened the event by introducing a fantastic presentation from Bob Cain and Ellie Moore on behalf of the Cairngorms Youth LAG, which highlighted the great work being taken forward by young people in the area and their ability to try new methods of delivery.

The conference opened for registration at 09:30 the next day and straight away there were conversations happening and a buzz about the room! Hosting the event was Fiona Garven, ex Director of Scottish Community Development Centre.  Fiona did an excellent job of keeping the event on track - and crucially - on time!

The opening address was then made by Anna Densham, Scottish Government Deputy Director of Land Use, Rural & Island Policy who set out the current government priorities, context about the current funding landscape and the consequences of this.  

We then moved to the first of three presentations giving the perspective of a range of stakeholder organisations who had delivered or received CLLD funding over the last two years. This gave fascinating insight into the different methods of delivery and the strengths and opportunities of these models.

After a short coffee break is was straight into the workshops with four specific thematics to explore:

  • Rural Poverty (facilitators - Twimukye Mushaka/Elaine Mcgregor)
  • Just Transition (facilitator Keith McWhinnie)
  • Community Wealth Building/Support for Micro-enterprise (facilitators - Julie McLachlan/Jackie Brierton)
  • Responding to the climate emergency (facilitators - Fabio Villani/HannahDowney)

These breakout groups produced lots of quality discussion and learning which was captured for analysis post event.

After lunch there was a short quiz to “energise” the room then back into two presentations from experienced CLLD practitioners. The first, a presentation on empowering and enabling young people and the role of youth LAGS was delivered by Bridget Trussell and Anna Fleming of Cairngorms National Park Authority. This was followed by Peter Ross, ex chair of Dumfries and Galloway LAG and Chair of the LAG Chair Group. Peter’s presentation was on the topic of ‘working differently’ and it’s challenge was around partnership working.

The next session took the form of a world café - five thematic questions covering:

  1. New policy framework - What future model would retain the best of the CLLD approach and what could be done differently, within the current parameters? A new national framework – who does what? Facilitator - Elaine McGregor
  2. Simplification of CLLD processes whilst maximizing outcomes – Monitoring and Evaluation, evidence, systems, platforms, decision making etc. Facilitators - Hannah Downey & Lynn Douglas
  3. Inclusion – how do we make CLLD more accessible to lesser heard voices in rural communities? Facilitator - Catriona Mallows
  4. Cooperation – how can we collaborate to achieve the prioritised actions identified earlier? Facilitator - Alistair Prior
  5. Rural Movement – what role do you foresee for CLLD as part of future local empowerment and democracy? Facilitator - Artemis Pana

Again, lots of quality discussion, forthright views and learning was shared and captured for analysis, post event.

The last session was about future priorities and used Slido to capture delegate views.  The conference closed with keynote listeners reflecting on the day and then Anna making final observations and closing remarks. This included an announcement about the launch and publication of new policy prospectus by First Minister Humza Yousaf that afternoon, which included a commitment to the development of a Scottish Rural Delivery Plan for publication by 2026 (more here).

The event ended with thanks to all who had taken time out of busy schedules to take part and contribute at the conference – and as promised, on time!  

Special thanks go to:

  • Guest speakers Scott Petrie of Angus Rural Partnership, Erica Judge of Inspiring Scotland and Natasha Hutchison of Wester Ross Biosphere for their presentations at the morning session
  • Facilitators: Twimukye Mushaka of Poverty Alliance,  Fabio Villani of TSI Moray, Jackie Brierton of Growbiz, Artemis Pana and Catriona Mallows Scottish Rural Action and Alistair Prior (Angus LAG).
  • Keynote listeners and scribes: Jim Hume of National Rural Mental Health Forum and Mags Currie, Valentina Farinelli, Ruth Wilson and Jonathan Hopkins of James Hutton Institute.

Links to the slides for the presentations, including the Youth LAG presentation, will be sent to delegates via We Transfer link and a final report made available once anaylsis of the outputs has been completed.