Senscot Bulletin: 18-05-2007

Dear members and friends,

In Spain near Estepona on the beach; Atlas mountains against a cloudless horizon; heat, light, sea air, surf sounds – bliss.  Behind me the beach restaurant run by Carlos and Rosita; a faint breeze carries good cooking smells – today’s special, tagine of Moroccan lamb; my wee corner table, reservado!  Presently two fishermen arrive – assemble multiple rods – lines trailing into the shimmering sea.  Later a beautiful Andalucian stallion, carrying a young woman walks past – moving in harmony like one graceful creature.  Tomorrow I’ll drive an hour north, to visit my pal who lives in a village near the mountain town of Ronda – one of my favourite places.  I especially love its old quarter where the best of Spanish and Moorish cultures become the passion of Andalucia.
 Awakened from snooze by a British family squabble. “You’re 12 years old Tania – your going on no sleep over in a tent with a bunch of strangers – and that’s the end of it.”  Mum unmovable – Tania sullen – Dad behind paper – 2 youngsters enjoying aggro.  Time for Tagine.  Trudging up the beach I reflect on the scourge of speed.  Tania can’t wait to grow up.  The Spanish seem to value and protect slowness better than us.  Their kids less frantic.  Chirpy Carlos pours my ‘agua con gas’.  “Never any vino for you Laurence – you no like?” I like too much Carlos” I smile “I have enjoyed my full share of good vino – but unfortunately I drank it too fast.”


So Alex Salmond and his team are to get a run at it – an outcome which reflects the nation’s mood for change. The other parties, particularly Labour, will not please the Scottish people if they frivolously destabilise the new administration. My personal hope from the election was that local communities in Scotland will get more space and independence – relief from municipal strangulation. John Swinney now has responsibility for social enterprise. When he told the recent social enterprise coalition hustings in Perth that the SNP would dissolve Communities Scotland and give their power to local authorities, it was not well received. I believe that Communities Scotland’s current regeneration policy is too timid – but it’s the only challenge to local council domination. The fact that Swinney doesn’t know this is worrying because he’s got responsibility for the portfolio for our sector. Here’s a link to the new ministerial responsibilities:

On behalf of Ed Miliband’s Office of the Third Sector, Edinburgh-based consultancy Rocket Science has mapped out and commented on business support services for social enterprise across the UK. The report looks impressive, says some interesting things, and merits a full read. But the conclusions of the very brief Scottish section are provocative: “Although the support provided by Scottish Enterprise and HIE has been found to be of good quality, there are issues arising from the range of agencies involved in supporting social enterprises…”. It is not made clear whether this is a misrepresentation of McGregor and Clark’s recent work, or Rocket Science’s own findings. Whichever it is, they should be aware that there are voices in Scotland which don’t agree. Their current research for Communities Scotland into ‘business development support for social enterprise in lowland Scotland’ will allow a more considered evaluation.

Comrie Development Trust is celebrating a massive yes vote to proceed with their plans to buy Cultybraggan Army Camp. From an impressive turnout of 72% (1404 voters), a staggering 97% cast their votes in support of the community’s proposals. The Executive has confirmed that this is the most conclusive community result to date under this legislation:  Also, a reminder that the DTAS Conference is filling up fast so best register quickly to avoid disappointment. Dates: 10-11th June at Easterbrook Hall, The Crichton, Dumfries. 

News of another couple of Local Social Enterprise Networks (LSENs) taking shape. Initial meetings have taken place in Clackmannan and Tayside over the last couple of weeks. Between the two events, around 20 social enterprises represented. Also, over the summer a new thematic Network will emerging for social enterprises in the Health sector. If you’d like more info’ on these or other LSENs, contact

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: 51 vacancies, incl. posts with: Almond Enterprises, Edinburgh Cyrenians, Wasps Artists’ Studios, Lanarkshire family support groups coalition, Snowsport Scotland, Wellhouse Community Trust , City of Edinburgh Council, Community Woodlands Association,

‘Re-Create’ project in Tarbert seeks a social enterprise consultancy to do feasibility, business plan and funding application work:

EVENTS: 15 events, incl. Community Cohesion & the Equality Agenda for the 21st Century, SECC, 24 May; Fly Right Dance Company, Midsummer Madness Family Ball, Haddington 23 June.

Local People Leading’s website is now up and running. Have a look:

Senscot’s AGM will be taking place in Edinburgh this year at the Friend’s Meeting House in Victoria Street on Wednesday 27th June. Everybody is welcome. We’ll have info’ on speaker etc over the next week or so.

The Quirk Report, looking at the transfer of public assets to community organisations in England, was launched this week. While it is not recommending similar legislation to that in Scotland, it does say that there are no substantive barriers to the transfer of public assets, that risks can be managed, and that when asset transfer is done properly the benefits outweigh the risks.  DTA UK believes that this is a landmark report. For info’, see

I deplore the deterioration in the ethics of the banking sector. Good article in the Daily Record recently detailing the ways banks rip off our money, and recommending we join the developing credit union movement. 

This week’s bulletin profiles an exciting international facility in Dundee – the Factory Skatepark. Dundee has a long tradition in Skateboarding and this venture represents the first purpose built centre in Scotland. This new facility houses not only the Skatepark but also has a skate shop; a café / restaurant; an IT Suite / Internet café as well as conference facilities for up to 70 delegates. The Skatepark was originally set up by The Gate Church in Dundee who set up the new enterprise, The Factory Skatepark, in 2004. For more info’, see

Chatting recently with young friend whose wife has just had their first child. He seems besotted with the wee lad, but speaks of his wife’s attachment as of a different order – “almost frightening”. Hugh MacDiarmid captures this difference in his 1935 poem, ‘the Two Parents’, which can be read either as pompous male generalisation or as a tribute to the maternal instinct. Some hold that ‘maternal’ is biological – others that it is a cultural and interchangeable between parents.
 “I love my little son, and yet when he is ill, I could not confine myself to his bedside. I was impatient of his squalid little needs, his laboured breathing and the fretful way he cried, and longed for my wide range of interests again; whereas his mother sank without another care to that dread level of nothing but life itself and stayed day and night, till he was better, there. Women may pretend, yet they always dismiss everything but mere being just like this.”

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: