Senscot Bulletin: 01-06-2007

Dear members and friends,

Rare visit to Edinburgh this week – sauntering up the High Street – suddenly realise that where Lothian Regional Council used to be on George IV Bridge – is now a huge gap. Find a window seat over the road in Deacon Brodie’s – sit reflecting on the site which impacted on my life – twice.
 In the early ‘60s, Midlothian Council was assembling the whole block (known as Melbourne Place) for a new H.Q. I rented the High St. corner on a month to month lease (it was where Ferguson’s Edinburgh Rock factory had been) and opened the Salad Bowl Restaurant. The new development kept getting delayed – so I cut a staircase to the big space above – a rent free squat – which became the Bothy, a successful venue for folk singers. Eventually this pleasing terrace was demolished – replaced around 1970 by the ugly Lothian Regional Council Headquarters. From 1976 till 1988 I worked for LRC as their man in Wester Hailes – lasted 12 years because my very clever line manager watched my back – when she left I was swatted like a fly.
“They say it’s going to be a hotel next,” the waitress says. Cross the road to look at this big hole close up – to pay respect to a piece of ground, for many centuries at the centre of Scottish History. Rabbie Burns probably stood here. Hope the new building is worthy. Without forming the intention, I write in pencil on the site boarding “Laurence Demarco was here” – then as an afterthought – “twice”.

The debate about asset transfer is more advanced in England than up here because they’ve reached the stage of openly admitting that local councils don’t want to do it. At the recent launch of the Quirk review, government ministers told community groups to challenge authorities that drag their feet through a new power called “public request to order disposal” (PROD) – great name! Our previous Labour Administration in Scotland was afraid of local Government (for party reasons). Many activists believe that our whole Community Planning process is played out as a charade, with half the partnerships not even bothering with local representatives. Let’s hope the new administration can get more honesty into the way we deal with our communities. Adopting the Quirk Review’s key actions would be a start.

In order to get more investment into Third Sector projects in our poorest communities, Senscot has been supporting the new social investment bank proposed by the Commission on Unclaimed Assets. The Treasury has now announced that the bank proposal is the third priority after youth services and financial advice projects – this effectively boots it into the long grass. In Scotland just now, disparate energies are looking at how to bring the right kind of investment to social enterprise. Big players like the Lottery and Lloyds TSB Foundation – smaller players closer to the frontline. Communities Scotland will soon receive TERU’s review of Social Investment Scotland (SIS) and should be in a good position to devise a vehicle which can combine the best of the experience and resources on offer. Let’s hope they place it as close as possible to our sector.

A couple of good pieces of consultancy on the go. Perthshire Housing Association is looking to recruit a suitably skilled and experienced consultant to help a group of local resident to set up a Development Trust:  These are the best jobs – people and project advancing together. In a similar vein, the community of Carronshore near Falkirk seeks to explore options for improved usage and facilities within their community centre.

Tom Savage, who is 27, was this month named young social entrepreneur of the year for the three environmental organizations he has set up. His next venture, he tells this Guardian interview, is to be a private business for his own profit. Purists may find this contradictory but I don’t. If I was 27 I would build my own business for financial independence – and then set up social enterprises as I wished.

NOTICES: We can’t flag all notices here, but submit jobs and events and we’ll post them on our site. See This week: 

JOBS: 47 vacancies, incl. posts with: BabyGROE, PACE Recruitment, Community Woodlands Association,  Turning Point Scotland, Edinburgh Foodchain, CHAP, City of Edinburgh Council

EVENTS: 10 events, incl. ‘The Big Questions’ Big Tent 2007, Falkland, Fife, 15-17th June; Learning Festival for Disabled People, Glasgow, 22 June; SME recycling collections seminar, Stirling, 27 June.

School for Social Entrpreneurs, Fife, invites you to join them and make your idea happen and make a real difference in your community:

Last call for places at the Jim Schorr masterclass at the Glynhill Hotel in Paisley next Tuesday, 5th June. We understand there are a handful of spaces still available. Jim (Executive Director of San Francisco-based Juma Ventures) is one of the USA’s leading social entrepreneurs. He’s visiting these shores next week as a guest of his friends at Kibble. Cost is £50 per head. For more info’, see or contact

In response to last week’s piece on banking ethics, our friends at Triodos Bank inform us that UK investors can now become co-owners of the bank itself, giving people and organisations who care about the impact of their money a new way to support their work.

We hear that Developing Strathclyde Ltd (DSL) has obtained a loan of £500,000 from Social Investment Scotland to expand its lending to social enterprises.  This money will be used to target social enterprises that can’t raise all the money they need from the bank. Applications for outside west central Scotland will be considered on a case by case basis. For more info’, see

Alistair Thornley brings our attention to the newly launched Business Gateway web site. Based on the DTI site, it contains over 10,000 pages of content covering business information, interactive tools and directories to help start and grow businesses. Early feedback has been very positive altho’ some clearer links to organisations within our sector would help.

This week’s profiles a community enterprise based on the outskirts of Stirling. Fallin Community Enterprise has evolved from the Fallin Futures Community group and aims to drive forward the village’social, economic and environmental regeneration of the village. Last summer, they launched their bicycle recycling service – Recyke-a-bike. The initiative sells on donated and waste bicycles to members of the community. It also provides a bicycle maintenance and repair service. More:

Two quotes this week which for me are linked. The first is from Paolo Coelho (author of the Alchemist);
“It is not so hard to fulfil your life’s dreams. No harder than living a life that one would actually rather not live. But why do we do it so rarely.”
The second is from Tenzin Gyatso (14th Dalai Lama).
“I always consider myself as a simple Buddhist monk. I feel that is the real me. I feel that the Dalai Lama as a temporal ruler is a man-made institution. As long as the people accept the Dalai Lama, they will accept me. But being a monk is something, that belongs to me. No one can change that. Deep down inside, I always consider myself a monk, even in my dreams.”

That’s all for this week. Good luck with your adventures

Best wishes.

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Laurence’s book, ‘You’ve Got To Laugh’ is available See: