Shaping North Ayrshire process
Encourage more small independent businesses to open, businesses like GRo coffee, The Niche and Small talk cafe bring people from all over Ayrshire. Big box stores are great but we should be trying to promote and support more local small businesses.
More priority needs to be given to development of community enterprise and co-operatives such as is proposed within Radio City Association’s asset transfer of the Knox Institute in Kilbirnie Town Centre. Methods for attracting and encouraging enterprise and retail in town centres include creating town centre enterprise zones creating VAT free zones and creating networks of business, social enterprise and community. North Ayrshire council could follow the example of Glasgow City in letting out vacant premises for nominal cost of £1 to reduce dereliction of high streets and encourage occupancy rates which in turn could promote a ripple effect of economic activity in local high streets.
There is established infrastructure and institutions for education, health and economy. There should therefore be an institution that is geared toward community led economic growth and fostering economic citizenship. The pieces are in place and we know how to make more as required through technology and innovation. We just need to do this by embracing economic citizenship and global sustainability. Economic growth and wealth creation have been the priorities. The market economy has created enterprise and enormous improvements in communities around the globe. But this has been achieved at a high price and the market has not been accessible for everyone. Many of the costs have been undervalued until recently with denial, delay and procrastination inhibiting any real commitment to reprioritise. In economic terms, there is a real concern that the Covid-19 related recession through any “new normal” may last for many years, long enough to cause extensive damage to the productive capacity of
the economy and make a recovery weaker and slower. In such a situation, there are multiple trails of loss such as unemployed workers losing skills and connections in the job market, making it harder for them to find new employment, and many small businesses going bankrupt, leaving fewer companies to take on jobless workers. Within such trails of woe lies the deeper concerns about the human factor. Humans have a craving for an existential purpose, a solid sense of self – a measure of our worth in having an identity, a valued role and a sense of belonging. This is the economic expression for a citizenship-based model of society that utilises an otherwise purposeless economy. The economy lurches in swinging cycles from growth to recession. Little seems to be learned between the cycles. It has taken the tragedy of Coronavirus (COVID-19) to raise fundamental questions on our priorities and what we value, and how to allow environmental recovery and social equity to take root within a more
sustainable economic system. The current situation presents a game changing moment. Yet there is now a rush to get back to some form of “new normal” along the same lines of the 2019 “normal”. The approach to economic survival, exit from lockdown or easing social restrictions that limit economic activity appears to be following a path that tries to get back to where we were, using the same approaches, language and tools. This is in the hope that recovery will come “in a few years” yet we face an unprecedented loss of economic activity and enormous costs. We could re-structure to create a truly sustainable system based around economic citizenship. This would prioritise wealth creation and maintenance in a rounded sense beyond traditional measures based around GDP and consumption. Such an approach could reconcile local and global considerations to provide a solid basis for new forms of sustainability. Organisations such as the OECD have explored this and how the approach could be applied
at different spatial levels and integrated across policy areas. This can happen on the ground quickly. Governments have shown how resources can be mobilized and reallocated immediately. Job losses and changes to supply networks, trade, the financial system and High Street activity will all require the further reallocation of activity and a shift in the economic focus. It will also require a major change in mindset. We have invested in hard earned social capital, institutions and infrastructure over generations. This could be utilized more effectively towards sustainability – an approach that embraces how we tackle global environmental crisis, achieve net zero and promote local supply networks, promote responsible consumer sovereignty and integrated actions. Equity and humanitarianism would be the beating heart within the system rather than being outside viewed as aid or a philanthropic afterthought. With a phased easing of lockdown restrictions, the hard work of economic “recovery” and
planning ahead comes into sharp focus. There are many big questions around the state of the economy, the balance between wellbeing and wealth generation, the type of society we want to live in and how we will develop enterprise with a sense of purpose for all going forward.
North Ayrshire is experiencing what every other town is experiencing in West / central Scotland. The death of the high street due to on line buying. So regeneration of the high street seems to be the new flavour to combat decline and delapidation. Mixing business with residential , retail and office. But demand must be supplier driven or else these ideas are rarely successful on their own. A town centres wealth is dependant on local expenditure and with so much new housing development in the Irvine area then this is a prime opportunity to develop and harness this market sector. But firstly it has to have kerbside appeal with clean, maintained and inviting facilities and buildings. Sadly this doesn't exist. A walk around Irvine Town centre shows neglect and disregard for personal environment. Rear of building are trashed with litter and abandoned rubbish literally at rear of high street and shopping centres. Without an inviting appeal it will not attract new investors and customers.
With so many people focussed on convenience these days, build as much parking space as possible, as close to as many businesses as possible. Learn the lesson from the Portal. Idea was to put it in the centre of town, so more people could access using public transport. Result - less people use it because they can't park their cars. Ideals against reality?
Reduce rates for small businesses.
Pleasant areas to sit and decent pavements are necessary. There must be support to enable shops to keep their fronts in good order and the owners of closed premises encouraged to tidy them up and given help to sell or rent.
In Kilwinning - lower rates, support pop-up shops to give people an chance to try a building aswell as making them easily fundable.
Small local business is what will help bring people to centres...