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OR AS THE COMMONS IS SEEN BY GOVERNMENT AGENCIES


We general need to set things in frameworks towards our goals and winning things. Frameworks that can hold together wider over overarching aims. Aims not towards project silos, competition and funding applications, or governmental shenanigans in order to maintain the status quo. Our work at the Riff Raff, as else where is guided by and based on building and maintaining the commons as an important public duty of engagement.


What Are Common Good Funds

Andy Wightman explains

Scotland's Common Good Funds


We now have this act. Incorporated in Section 8 of the Scottish Community Empowerment Act. We need to start taking control of our commons!


The following is only some brief details of what the Scottish Common Good Fund consists of and is designed to pique the readers interest by giving some history, the present state and the potential of these important public assets. It should also be treated as an opportunity to ask questions about our commons that we maybe able to answer. Common Good Awareness Project

The Social Energy Collective

The Social Energy Collective was set up to look at ways we can save energy in the work we do around activism by avoiding reinventing the wheel; by sharing information, encouraging collaboration and helping to build the kind of solidarity that can win things. Working with the Common Good Awareness Project which is about Identifying Restoring and Documenting Scottish Commons.

The two fundamental problems we believe the Common Good Act answers.

One is: Through our organising how do we respond to ordinary people in order to engage and encourage them to get involved in something worth working for?

The other is. Why are we handcuffing ourselves to duplicitous processes (farcical consultations) supplied to sustain political influence and power of political parties within these processes?

We either use direct action with simple and comprehendible and relatable ideas. (The Commons) Or we have to endure the failure of corrupt actions and the cleansing of communities. Particularly when our only recourse is to a pdf document with tick boxes and some nice pictures called a consultation.

Why do the city council transfer the responsibilities and outcomes for these processes to a bank? A. Because ultimately all of these decisions are based on financial viability not on social outcomes.

The common good does not fulfil nor answer all of our needs and problems. But it does fill the need for a language and process of understanding that cuts through the subterfuge of public relations to something that ordinary people can understand, work with and develop towards wider knowledge of economic and social development goals.

We would point to Renfrew where the trustees of their Common Good Fund, which has a full set of accounts and a CG register and beckons their community to find people to spend it, along with matched funding. And with assets being continually added to the Renfrew the Common Good portfolio?

The Common Good Fund of Glasgow on the other hand is being used to purchase alcohol and other frivolities. Meanwhile the city council continues to sell off masses of our common land with absolutely no consultation with its citizens whatsoever.

Why the Common Good and Why are we interested in it?

The Peoples City Council
If the Common Good Fund did't exist we would need to invent it. But why reinvent the wheel? We already have  it. The problem is very few know about it and those whose job it is to protect it in perpetuity for future generations are failing miserably to do so. Meanwhile so called projects, initiatives, for community involvement come and go, are short lived, badly structured and are designed to fail We already have a community program designed on democratic principals, with laws to protect it, that covers the whole country and has stood the test of time. And has been in existence for over 500 years. We ask. Why are we not using it?

Common Good FAQ

  • What is the Common Good Fund
    A whole collection of public owned assets of money, land, buildings and movable assets such as jewellery, paintings, furniture and even whole libraries. Think Kelvingrove Art Gallery, part of Glasgows Common Good Fund 
  • Where is the Common Good Fund
    The funds assets can be found all over Scotland, in every town village and hamlet, inner city and major town.
  • Who is in charge of the fund?
    It is the duty of the different councils around the country to be stewards of the fund and ensure it is used for the benefit of the citizenry who own it.
  • What should it be used for?
    It can and has been used for many things, from street parties to major projects. That should again be decided by the communities the fund exists in. 
  • Consultation
    The fund could be used for proper community consultation, in presenting community experts that could work to represent the impact of major developments, such as housing and land uses in their area.
  • How can we go about using it?
    First you have to find out from your local council what their fund consists of in your area, then take it from there. Don't be surprised if your representative doesn't know what it is. You may have to educate them. The Common Good Fund is also included in section 8 of the Community Empowerment Act 2015 on CG property

Why should we be interested?

  1. Present and past generations have enjoyed the benefits of the Common Good Fund all of their lives. We need to ensure future generations also enjoy them.
  2. The common good is based on democratic principals. These kinds of institutions need to be preserved particularly in communities that have little else, as their agency becomes weaker without them. Even without the funds financial assets the network of connections around the country is priceless.
  3. Our libraries, museums and their contents would not be here if it wasn't for the people of Scotland buying and donating to our cultural archive which is what the Common Good Fund is. No one owns it yet everyone owns it. It is a mechanism for holding councils to account.
  4. Think of the parks and green space that are part of our Common Good, that have been built on, taken and sold to developers from under our children's feet.
  5. It needs to stop at a time when we need housing and green space our commons is being pillaged for profit, our ecology and wildlife corridors and flora and fauna erased as we head towards the peak of our sixth major and rapid extinction event in the earths history.
  6. Finally if we do not care about our common good the only people who will benefit from them are the very trustees whose duty it is to protect them for the public. Our assets are being disposed of for the benefits of administrations to cover their own incompetency. Proof? 60 people own 50% of Scotland  The common good offers collaboration and discourse out-side of sectarian and party political discourse and gives people something worth working for.


Who should the fund work for, lives or profiteers?

  1. The Common Good Fund is a network that existed before networks. It is a conduit of culture, history and a unique feature of the traditions of Scotland that people do actually care for each other.
  2. The Common Good funds could be used by our young folk to engage in ideas in their communities in real projects, in place based learning and cooperative working that creates more commons. This than watch the very idea of it disappear into the hands of prospectors.xxxxxxxx
  3. As we are consistently being encouraged to take national pride in commercial activities, such as sports and firework displays. Why can't we be proud of a 500 year old tradition of giving to each other. Why can't this achievement not be expressed from banners hanging in George Square? 
  4. In a world of uncertainty and doubt we need anchors of assurance that can see us through the bad times and point to places of hope and fulfilment.  That is the very essence and why the Common Good Fund came about and why we should protect it for the times ahead.

Common good land and the duty to consult the public (Ruling)

The Court of Session has issued a landmark judgment which will change how local authorities categorise and make decisions regarding common good land/property.

We already have the laws why are they not being used to protect the community assets over corporate assets and arresting the culprits?
Because:

“The law condemns the man or woman
who steals the goose from off the common
But turns the greater felon loose
who steals the common from the goose.” 

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Official held Common Good funds not the full story

On the right a list of assets from the Dep. of Justice, Scottish Parliament. In Renfrew there is £16,000,000 of fixed and movable assets from 22,000 people. On the other hand Glasgow's Common Good stands officially at the same value, for a population of 500,000, A city thats population up until recently was 1,000,000 Do the arithmetic, what's missing from the Glasgow accounts? Why is Salvador Dali's, St John On The Cross at the Kelvingrove Art Gallery, which has made millions over the years why is it not on Glasgows Common Good Register? 


In the last year or so there was an outpouring of recognition and support for our carers and emergency workers. Whilst ordinary people both young and old made a massive effort to raise cash in the millions for vital equipment and services. Living proof that the Common Good is alive well and still urgently needed. And worthy of the 530 years of statutory protection until recent mismanagement has left common assets and efforts of ordinary people undocumented! 


“If you are not careful the newspapers will have you hating the people who are being oppressed, and loving the people who are doing the oppressing“
Malcolm X

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