Senscot Bulletin: 02-11-2007

Dear members and friends,

The dark and the cold are with us again but for some reason my mood is buoyant just now – as if the good guys are in charge of the ship.  Keep hearing about a small family run restaurant in North Queensferry gaining a reputation.  Decide to go for lunch- then I’ll walk back over the Forth Road bridge which I’ve never done – bit scary – an adventure. 
The village of North Queensferry sits dramatically below the Fife end of the Forth Rail bridge – dwarfed by this awesome masterpiece of engineering. `The Wee Restaurant` has been a house – now a simple pleasing room – white paint – timber – good light – 24 seats.  The chef / owner is Craig Wood who worked with Martin Wishart; his wife Vikki and Christophe from Paris serve tables.  Choice of 3 starters; 4 mains- simple, good seasonal produce – prepared with pride by a master.  15 quid for three courses – a gem of a place. 
Sitting nearby are two intriguing women, aged 75 and 50 – probably mother and daughter – touch of class –  serene lived in faces.  While I’m eating my pudding (perfect vanilla panna cotta), they are joined by a granddaughter – ‘Jane darling’ – kiss kiss.  Hear Jane say ‘I woke this morning with a foreboding – as if something terrible is going to happen – do you believe in forebodings, nanna?’ ‘Oh yes I do’ says nanna.  Suddenly the prospect of walking across the Forth 200 feet up loses its appeal. Christophe calls a taxi.  Well, I completed half the adventure. 


MSP Michael McMahon secured a debate in our parliament last week which gave MSPs a chance to discuss social enterprise. Reading the official report (attached) I’m impressed how many politicians know and respect what we do. The work of our SE Coalition within the Holyrood village has been invaluable. . Another important speech last week was that of Tracy Slavin, the new Director of the Third Sector and Social Economy Division of Government. We wish her well – hope she stays long enough to master her brief. In her speech, at the Social Enterprise Institute Conference, she reiterated the four main aims of the SE Strategy – which haven’t changed since we first read them in March. It’s been a year of treading water – not a milieu for the entrepreneur. On 14th November, the politicians will `divvy up` the available money – we’ll see how much they really love us.

As anticipated Communities Scotland has been abolished – I’m personally sad about this. Senscot worked closely with the CS Regeneration Team since the launch of the Agency in 2001. Their understanding of regeneration wasn’t always the same as ours but you could have a dialogue – and they offered a counterpoint to the majority of civil servants who consider regeneration a branch of the construction industry. If it`s now up to individual councils to promote community empowerment we will need some kind of COUNCILWATCH panel to name and shame the councils (we all know them) who have no intention of devolving power. See,

The SNP administration has made it clear it wants to support community empowerment – but like the rest of us it’s not sure the best way to do this. Communities Minister Stuart Maxwell has instructed a wide consultation on this subject up to the end of December. Officials have prepared a discussion document which will now do the rounds. You will see that it mentions the Community Anchor Organisations being advanced by the Local People Leading (LPL) campaign.  The LPL website has now been refreshed – worth a look – it tells a strong story. 

Recently, Professor Alan McGregor of Glasgow Uni and Alistair Grimes of Rocket Science (two scholarly chaps) have independently expressed the view that Social Enterprise is not in fact a `sector` but  a `business model`: I have been pondering (a) Is this so? (b) What are the implications? I remain perplexed.

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: 31 vacancies, incl. posts with: Show Racism the Red Card, Forth Sector, Impact Arts (Glasgow) Ltd
EVENTS: 19 events, incl  Meet the Buyer, 6 Nov, Angus; Reclaiming the Woods: Assets for Developing Communities, Dundee, 11 Nov; Fife Employment Access Trust, AGM & Launch of ‘Journey to Work’, 14 Nov, Glenrothes; Developing Community Assets, 20 Nov, Glasgow; Ethnic Minority Social Enterprise Showcasing Conference, 26 Nov, Edinburgh;

There are few activities which can deliver as many benefits to communities as owning their own renewable power generation. The Highlands and Islands Community Energy Company (HICEC) is currently supporting around 30 community groups to develop such projects. 90 community activists and 30 `suits` attended the HICEC 3rd annual conference in Skye on the 15th-17th October to hear Alan Hobbett make the keynote speech. Alan knows from Gigha how renewable energy can underpin community empowerment.

Next week’s Social Capital and Financial Inclusion Conference at Gogarburn is heading towards a sell-out. Over 140 delegates have now registered for the event organised by Assist Social Capital. Only a handful of places left.  For info`, see

Last month’s `Fit for Purpose` Conference in Glasgow has seen the launch of a new thematic Network for social enterprises in the health and care field. The next meeting will be held at Unity Enterprise Café in the Trongate, Glasgow on 13th December. A Conference Report has just been completed. Here are the recommendations.  If you want the full report or info` on the next meeting, contact
This week’s bulletin profiles a new community owned initiative on the island of Islay. The Port Mor Centre, owned by Iomart Chille Chomain – the local development trust, opened in early summer 2007 as a community facility offering a range of services to visitors to Islay and residents alike. Their facilities include a café with internet access, meeting rooms with videoconferencing, a playpark and a campsite. The building is carbon neutral and uses a 6KW wind turbine to generate electricity, a ground source heating system to provide heating and solar panels to provide hot water. For more,

Last Tuesday, in his weekly Guardian piece, George Monbiot wrote: ‘A few weeks ago I read what I believe is the most important environmental book ever written.  It contains no quotes, no tables, no facts, figures, warnings, predictions or even arguments.  It is a novel called ‘The Road’ by Cormac McCarthy – and it will change the way you see the world.’  Regular readers will recognise that I said the same thing in my intro to this bulletin recently.  But Monbiot’s piece puts `The Road` in the context of last week’s report by the UN on the state of our planet.  His articles conclude: ‘Civilisation ends with a shutdown of human concern.  I sense that this might be happening already – that a hardening of interests is taking place among the people of the rich world.’

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

Best wishes.

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