Project name: Cree Valley Community Council
Location: Cree Valley, Dumfries and Galloway
CARES funding: £10,000 enablement grant
Date completed: November 2020

Cree Valley is located in the district of Wigtown, Dumfries and Galloway. Cree Valley Community Council (CVCC), a statutory elected body, represents the interests of all residents in the Cree Valley including Newton Stewart and Minnigaff.

In 2019, CVCC contacted Local Energy Scotland for support because of a potential rise in income from several community benefit funds linked to existing and proposed wind farms in the local area. CVCC expects potential community benefits funds of around £100,000 each year from Clauchrie and Arecleoch Windfarms and Kilgallioch Wind Farm Extension.

Following extensive consultation between the developers, ScottishPower Renewables, CVCC and the communities it represents, it was agreed that a Community Action Plan was required to ensure the effective allocation of funds.

In early 2020, CVCC received a CARES enablement grant to appoint professional consultants to produce a Community Action Plan.

Project aims and objectives

The project’s objective was to produce a Community Action Plan. The action plan would be created by the community, for the community to make it an even greater place to live, work, play and visit. CVCC believed that the development of a Community Action Plan would demonstrate the area’s ambition and creativity and would reflect the wants and needs of local people.

In May 2020, following impartial procurement support from CARES, CVCC appointed Community Enterprise to produce the action plan. Working together, Community Enterprise helped CVCC to facilitate a community consultation process that would produce a Community Action Plan from its findings.

Community Enterprise and CVCC carried out extensive research between June and September 2020. The research aimed to understand the priorities of local people, groups, businesses, and individuals who work and visit the area.

The consultation process included a variety of approaches. These included holding events, an online survey, online focus groups, and a village walk. COVID-19 restrictions meant that traditional consultation methods such as face-to-face consultation meetings were changed to online meetings. There were also more telephone and email conversations than would normally be the case.

The winning entries of the creative competition

A range of communication channels were used to inform and engage local people including issuing press releases, social media, posters, leafleting, and word of mouth. A creative competition was also held where local people were invited to enter drawings, photos, images or creative writing to illustrate what they liked about the area. These images are used in the final published plan.

Outcomes and achievements

Cree Valley’s Community Action Plan was published in November 2020.

The plan sets out the community’s vision for up to 20 years. It contains detailed priority activity across identified themes or outcomes for the shorter term (1-3 years), medium (3-10 years) and longer term (10-15 years).

The plan also identifies funding and partnership options for key thematic areas, as well as priority projects identified under these themes.

Although the forthcoming community benefits was a key motivation to create a Community Action Plan, it also includes activity that the community benefits package will not directly support, providing a focus for other resources that the community may secure.

Its vision is that “Cree Valley is a connected, interactive, inclusive community providing activities to promote health, community well-being, the environment and vibrant business growth highlighting the areas as both attractive and welcoming to visitors.”

The plan sets out five key themes:

  • a connected and interactive community
  • a sustainable and enterprising economy
  • a healthy, vibrant, and positive community
  • an accessible community
  • an attractive community.

The plan also identifies values and principles to underpin the way in which the plan should be implemented.

  • A plan for all – it is the responsibility of the whole community (individuals and groups) to unite and work together for project ambitions to be realised.
  • Transparency – all ideas should be planned and researched openly with a commitment to co-production where groups contribute to the ideas as they develop.
  • Partnership – working together with a shared agenda will be at the heart of any activity arising from this plan.
  • Inclusion – everyone is invited to participate, and everyone benefits, regardless of age and ability.
  • Impact – the success of this plan will be judged on activities which have a positive influence on people and communities.
  • Involvement – ensuring the community is involved in decisions that affect their lives

Monitoring, auditing, and evaluation are an essential part of any Community Action Plan to ensure it is being implemented and achieving its aims. Evaluation also provides an opportunity to reflect and learn from activities undertaken. CVCC will meet regularly to review the plan’s progress and will ensure that meetings are open and accessible.

Lessons learned

A spokesperson for CVCC said: “It’s critical to have the whole community involved at the formative stages when creating a Community Action Plan.

“Face-to-face meetings are important. During lockdown, however, using an online meeting space such as Zoom was a good alternative, and it became more acceptable as its widespread use increased.

“Since creating the Community Action Plan, we are arranging various post-lockdown events for the community including a Christmas Fayre, Hogmanay Hoolie, and a car boot sale. In addition, we are at the early stages of an Asset Transfer application.”

Find out more about Cree Valley Community Council.

Read Cree Valley’s Community Action Plan.