Royston (Regeneration)

– in the Scottish Parliament on 24th June 2014.

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Photo of John Scott John Scott Conservative

The final item of business is a members’ business debate on motion S4M-10109, in the name of Bob Doris, on the regeneration of Royston. The debate will be concluded without any question being put.

Motion debated,

That the Parliament welcomes the creation of the Royston Strategy Group, which consists of several community groups, including Blochairn Housing Association, Copperworks Housing Cooperative, Rosemount Development Trust, Royston Corridor Homes, Royston Youth Action and Spire View Housing Association, collaborating on the completion of the regeneration of the Royston area; understands that this group consists of community groups that are having an influential impact on the community by developing an attractive business environment, reducing unemployment rates, improving available housing and boosting the way-of-life for local people; recognises that these groups, along with other community organisations, have assembled another team, inspireROYSTON, under the direction of the Rosemount Development Trust, to host five community festivals, in celebration of 25 years of voluntary effort by residents of Royston, and in recognition of the Commonwealth Games coming to Glasgow; understands that this community festival programme, known as “inspireROYSTON 2014”, was launched on 25 April by the Soaring above Royston Kite Festival, which consisted of over 500 schoolchildren recording “Why I love Royston” on the tail of their kites and then flying them in Glenconner Park; commends each of the aforementioned groups, along with their peers, on their successful efforts in regenerating Royston and fostering community union; considers this a great time for the local groups to double their efforts and notes calls for Glasgow City Council to give serious consideration to implementing any Royston Strategy Group suggestions, and believes that a deliverable blueprint for coordinated local regeneration would be a fitting legacy for Royston, its residents and the various community groups that have devoted so much effort to enhance the lives of residents over the years.

Photo of Bob Doris Bob Doris Scottish National Party

I welcome the opportunity to debate the regeneration of Royston and I welcome to the public gallery a number of representatives from the Royston community. I hope that my fellow members and people who have come through from Royston can join me in committee room 6 after the debate for refreshments; everyone would be most welcome.

I wanted the motion to be debated for two main reasons. First, I wanted the good work of the people and organisations in Royston to be recognised in what is a special year for many of them, as we will hear. Secondly, I wanted to draw to the Scottish Parliament’s attention the newly formed Royston strategy group, which is a community-led forum that wishes to see meaningful regeneration in an area where poverty has endured for too long. The Royston strategy group includes the Rosemount Development Trust, Royston Youth Action and local housing associations, to name but a few of its members, who also include me and my fellow MSP Patricia Ferguson.

I will briefly place regeneration in its historical context. Many still call Royston the Garngad. The area was renamed “Royston” in the 1940s; that was a marketing ploy as part of the Glasgow Corporation’s plans for housing action, which rolled out over subsequent decades and led to many in the 1950s moving away from Garngad to the new estates of the day.

In 1953, Mick McLaughlin wrote the poem “Farewell to Garngad”, in which he said:

Oh Father dear and did you hear, new houses they have built

Some of them in Easterhouse and some in Castlemilk

Balornock and Barmulloch too, they’re building them like mad

And now they’re taking our friends away

From the dear old Garngad.”

That is a poetic description of some of the problems that have been faced over the years.

More recently, the situation has been much more positive. In the past few decades, hundreds of rented homes and owner-occupied houses have been renovated or built anew in the area. Although there is still work to do, housing in Royston has improved dramatically in recent years. The development plans of the likes of Blochairn Housing Association, Spire View Housing Association and Copperworks Housing Co-operative must take much of the credit for that.

Local housing directors such as Michael Carberry and Fiona Murphy have not only spearheaded several development projects but been a face of housing and regeneration in the area. Tenant representatives such as Joan Reuston and Charlie Lunn certainly ensure that regeneration is directly community led.

Improving housing is vital, but housing associations and others recognise that housing alone does not improve life chances. Because of concern about poverty and high unemployment rates, Royston residents created the Rosemount Development Trust in 1989. By 1993, the local Millburn centre had been refurbished and was ready for tenants to use. The goal was to reduce unemployment rates and aid the fight against poverty. Just six years later, the trust completed new premises at Rosemount workspace, which provided more jobs and opportunities.

Maureen Flynn represents what ambition and a desire to serve can do. She was raised in Royston and has been involved with Rosemount for 24 years. She directly benefited by finding employment via the organisation and she has supported many others to do likewise. She is now the organisation’s director and is doing a marvellous job of advancing its reach and accomplishing its worthwhile goals.

A variety of other excellent organisations are contributing significantly to regenerative efforts. I will list just a few—they include Royston Youth Action, Toonspeak Young People’s Theatre, Rosemount Lifelong Learning, the Flexicentre and local churches and schools.

I very much hope that I have painted a vibrant picture of Royston, which is a vibrant place, as I am increasingly finding out. However, there is also a much more challenging story. An estimated 26 per cent of the Royston population receives or depends completely on benefits. An estimated 24 per cent of the working-age population there are unemployed. Four of the five data zones that cover Royston are in the bottom 10 per cent in Scotland for educational attainment. Gaining skills and further educational achievements is critical.

The organisations that I have mentioned are aware of the scale of the problem and are busy putting into action approaches to deal with the challenges. I am sure that others will talk about this year’s inspireROYSTON programme, which is just one example of engagement with all in Royston to celebrate their community and their heritage and—more important—to look to the future.

What can the Royston strategy group, which I mentioned at the start, achieve? The first thing that it can do is listen to the community and find out what its priorities are. It is doing that. Some of the work is already under way with a community consultation that is being led by Community Links Scotland. It has spoken to many families about what they perceive to be local needs. The potential need for a new community facility for older people in the area is beginning to emerge. Some have mentioned the lack of shopping opportunities, particularly for fresh fruit and vegetables and particularly around the Roystonhill area. As that area’s name suggests, it is particularly difficult for older residents to get around it. The quality of transport links has also been raised.

We can do much to address those issues. The Royston strategy group has the good will of Glasgow City Council, and much can be achieved when Glasgow City Council and the Scottish Government want to take action. There is a joint responsibility there. That is why I said that, whenever the Royston strategy group comes forward with proposals and recommendations, I hope that the local authority will consider them, back them and take action to achieve them. The Scottish Government must also do so, where there are opportunities to support that action.

There are good examples of that. For example, there was joint work to get more than £1 million for Maryhill burgh halls; there was joint action between the council and the Government to get more than £1 million for a new community centre in Cadder; and there was more than £1 million for a new watersports centre at Port Dundas. All those areas are in north Glasgow and all have issues that are similar to Royston’s issues. All the work involved partnership work between the city council and the Scottish Government.

The regeneration fund is one type of funding. That possible pot of cash is a £25 million Scottish Government fund across Scotland, and that is where Cadder Housing Association got its money from. Local authorities are asked to prioritise their bids in order of importance when bids go in. I would like to think that, in future years, when Glasgow City Council decides where it wishes the Scottish Government to prioritise, Royston will feature with the highest priority.

Any regeneration activity must be completely community led. It must be led not by the priorities of politicians but by the priorities of the local community. That is what the Royston strategy group hopes to achieve. The legacy from this special year can be deep and meaningful and can stretch for years to come.

If Mick McLaughlin had written his poem in the next few years rather than in 1953, I would have hoped that he might have called it “The Flourishing of Garngad” as opposed to “Farewell to Garngad”. A community that is strengthened by investment that is led by its own priorities will deliver, despite challenges. I have no illusions about that. Royston, or Garngad, is a vibrant community that needs help and assistance. I am sure that, with partnership working, we can all deliver.

Photo of Patricia Ferguson Patricia Ferguson Labour

I thank Bob Doris for securing this debate, which is about an important initiative in the Royston area of my Maryhill and Springburn constituency, and for highlighting many of the other good things that are happening in my constituency.

The next two years are exciting ones for Royston, with the area’s three housing associations—Spire View Housing Association, Copperworks Housing Co-operative and Blochairn Housing Association—and Rosemount Development Trust all celebrating 25 years of making a difference in their community. The famous Royston spire, which is the area’s most obvious landmark, will celebrate its 150th birthday next year and will not be forgotten in all the discussions about the area’s future.

Each of the housing associations that I mentioned has contributed to the regeneration of the area by building not just houses but warm, affordable and attractive homes. Many of the local residents and volunteers who began the process of regeneration around 25 years ago are, to their great credit, still involved. We owe them and the staff who support them a real debt of gratitude.

Similarly, Rosemount Development Trust has worked hard to preserve some notable buildings in the area and to provide premises to encourage businesses into Royston and employment opportunities for local people. Royston Youth Action provides support and activity for the young and not so young alike. Many other organisations operate in the area, of course, including Glasgow Housing Association and Toonspeak Young People’s Theatre, of which I am a patron. Therefore, I have an interest.

The fact that many of those organisations have significant anniversaries in the next few years has been the catalyst for co-ordinated community celebration, as the motion describes, and has spurred the organisations to think about what should happen next—what is needed to continue the regeneration of the area and how that should be taken forward.

As we have heard, a strategy group has been formed to discuss the changes that the community would like and to drive forward the required development. Spire View Housing Association has already commissioned a consultation exercise on community facilities. That work will influence the strategy group, which will no doubt want to carry out wider consultation before proceeding. However, it is fair to say that some ideas and themes are already beginning to emerge. Bob Doris rightly referred to the need for more shops in the area, and there is general support for the idea of better community facilities. That on-going discussion will be informed by the consultation that Spire View has already set in train.

Ironically for a community that is surrounded by a motorway, Royston can feel a little isolated. Better bus services and the reinstatement of the train line that once served the area have been suggested and are areas in which the Scottish Government might use its power and influence to bring about change and to help link Royston to neighbouring communities.

Mention has been made of the need to ensure the involvement of Glasgow City Council. I very much agree with that—so much so that I wrote to the council leader, Councillor Matheson, to ask him for the council’s co-operation. I am pleased to tell the Parliament that he responded positively, saying:

“I have instructed council officers to work with the Strategy Group to help deliver these aims. I understand that there has already been dialogue between the Strategy Group and senior officers and I hope that this will serve as a foundation upon which a suitable action plan can be constructed.”

I am sure that Councillor Matheson’s assurance of the council’s support will be very welcome.

As my time is limited, I will draw to a close, but first I will make two brief points. The first is that, in 2022, Royston can, if it chooses, commemorate the 80th anniversary of the controversial decision in 1942 to change the area’s name from the Garngad to Royston. Incidentally, that was ironically an initiative of the local headmaster and was opposed by local councillors. To people of my parents’ and grandparents’ generation, it always remained and will always be the Garngad. Would it not be appropriate to commemorate that change in the area’s name with meaningful physical change, building on the excellent work of the many community organisations that work so hard for the area?

My second point is that, as the surrounding multistorey flats are demolished at Forge Street and Rosemount Street and at Sighthill and Red Road, the skyline of the north of the city is beginning to change. Soon, Royston will once again enjoy the prominent position in the cityscape that it had for most of its 500-year history. In so many ways, this is the perfect time to look to continue the regeneration of Royston and, by working together, to help retain the sense of community that has always made Royston such a vibrant place in which to live and work.

Photo of James Dornan James Dornan Scottish National Party

I congratulate Bob Doris on bringing the debate to the chamber. He rightly recognised the work of committed local activists to make their area better. In this case, that is the area of Royston, but I am sure that the people in the public gallery will excuse me if I concentrate on the importance of regeneration in my constituency, although I recognise the importance of regeneration in areas such as Royston and across the city of Glasgow.

Too often, the unsung heroes of the local community are those who dedicate much of their spare time to making their community better. The aim of regeneration is to enable communities that have suffered from economic, social and environmental decline to rebuild their community. Like Mr Doris, I have lots of examples from the area that I represent of community groups, housing associations and social enterprises that work together to make their local areas better. I have talked at length in the chamber about the great work that housing associations such as Cassiltoun and Ardenglen do in their local communities.

Cassiltoun focuses its activities on five areas—employability, early intervention, health, social enterprise and community engagement. Those threads can be seen in its current regeneration projects, which include the Cassiltoun Stables Nursery, which provides childcare and employment in the area, and the craft cafe, a brilliant social enterprise that aims to tackle social isolation among older people. The money that is made—£8 is made for every £1 that is invested—is reinvested in the local community, to assist Cassiltoun help more people. That is the sort of model that every member in the chamber can surely get behind.

Ardenglen also has a large body of regeneration projects, including its current, highly ambitious plan—

The Deputy Presiding Officer:

I am sorry, Mr Dornan, but the motion is specifically about Royston.

The Deputy Presiding Officer:

I am not asking for a conversation, Mr Dornan. The people in the public gallery may indulge you in hearing about your constituency, but I am afraid that I cannot. If you want to confine your remarks to Royston, I am happy to hear them. Otherwise, you might want to leave your constituency matters to another day.

Photo of James Dornan James Dornan Scottish National Party

I am happy to leave it at that, Presiding Officer. I was trying to sell the benefits of regeneration, which affects the people of Royston as much as it affects the people of my constituency.

Photo of Bob Doris Bob Doris Scottish National Party

One of the reasons why I wanted other Glasgow MSPs to speak in the debate is that I am looking for best practice in community regeneration to be shared across the city and beyond. Before Mr Dornan closes, will he draw on one example from his constituency that he would recommend to the people of Royston for use in the regeneration of the Garngad?

The Deputy Presiding Officer:

Given Mr Doris’s plea, I am happy to indulge you in that regard, Mr Dornan. However, I ask you to confine your remarks to Royston, please.

Photo of James Dornan James Dornan Scottish National Party

Thank you, Presiding Officer.

A good idea for the people of Royston would be for those who are involved in the regeneration of the area to train the regeneration staff on the social return on investment evaluation model, which is used to assess the impact of regeneration work on the local community. The model measures social, environmental and economic changes and uses equivalent monetary values to represent them. Using that model would allow staff to determine the monetary worth of regeneration as well as the social worth that would come from the testimony of locals involved in projects. That would be a useful barometer when people look for additional funding to continue the projects. I am sure that, like the people in my constituency, the people of Royston would benefit from staff receiving such training.

Photo of Cameron Buchanan Cameron Buchanan Conservative

I offer my congratulations to Bob Doris on bringing the debate to the Scottish Parliament. Regeneration is a hot topic at present, and the Local Government and Regeneration Committee has heard a great deal of evidence on where regeneration has not had the desired effect. However, as I said in a recent committee debate on the subject, there are places, such as Royston, where regeneration has had a lasting effect. It is right that we draw attention to those successes, celebrate them and, when necessary, share the valuable lessons that have been learned.

I was particularly pleased to see the emphasis in Bob Doris’s motion on the importance of local businesses, whose exclusion has been a recurring theme in some areas. It is sad that, so often, regeneration projects have failed because they have focused on attracting new businesses without having proper regard to and consideration for the local businesses that already operate in the area and without offering them the support or facilities required to help them grow. I understand that the loss of local businesses from the Royston area was one of the issues that motivated Royston’s residents to take the lead and work with local groups to reverse that trend.

The other important element to Royston’s strategy is that it is very much being led by local groups and the community. The importance of community engagement has cropped up again and again, so it is encouraging that the Royston community is at the centre of the regeneration strategy. That is also why the inspireROYSTON initiative and the community festivals are such positive developments. We could all learn from that approach.

Living in an area and being part of a community are two very separate things. For community councils throughout Scotland, the real challenge is often to encourage people in the area to become involved, have their say and get involved with the decisions that will affect them first and foremost. I think that we are getting better at that. I recently attended a community council meeting in Morningside, in Edinburgh, at which there was a discussion about holding a coffee morning in a local community cafe, the sole purpose of which was to let the community know who their community council is and what it can do for them. Like Royston’s festivals, such proactive steps will make the difference, bring people together and get them involved locally—particularly those who might otherwise be excluded and find it difficult to interact with and meet their neighbours. It is great to see that Royston is starting that at a young age, with initiatives such as the Toonspeak Young People’s Theatre.

With all regeneration projects, there needs to be a tangible sign of success. We must always be sure that they are achieving value for money, and there are indications that the regeneration of Royston will have a lasting and positive impact, not least through the apprenticeships that it has created. Moreover, those apprentices are going to find employment. It is important that such projects leave youngsters with a lasting skill that will open doors for them and increase their employability.

Photo of Patricia Ferguson Patricia Ferguson Labour

I was reflecting on the member’s comments about the need to include business in such discussions. However, I am also conscious of the fact that, often, regeneration has to happen because business has departed, sometimes leaving devastation in its wake—or, worse, contamination, which then has to be cleared up by others. Does the member have any comments on that aspect?

Photo of Cameron Buchanan Cameron Buchanan Conservative

It is important to support old businesses, not just new ones. We should not just start new businesses, because the old ones then fail. Regeneration partly concerns restoring old businesses—restoring premises, raising morale and getting apprenticeships going. That is what I was trying to emphasise.

Regeneration is often connected with images of large-scale infrastructure projects and a huge amount of investment. However, such projects often fail, due to a lack of community involvement. Time and again we see that regeneration is at its most effective when it involves a collection of small projects, each addressing a specific need or an area where there is a weakness. Bit by bit, such projects succeed in halting decline and begin to reverse it. That action is not always taken on behalf of the community but is, instead, very much led by the community itself. That would seem to be what is happening in Royston, which is why I am delighted that we can celebrate its success in the chamber and that we can take this opportunity to learn from it.

Photo of Richard Lyle Richard Lyle Scottish National Party

Like James Dornan, I will cut out half my speech.

I thank Bob Doris for lodging this motion, which welcomes the creation of the Royston strategy group, which includes several community groups, Blochairn Housing Association, Copperworks Housing Co-operative, Rosemount Development Trust, Royston corridor homes, Royston Youth Action and Spire View Housing Association, which will all collaborate on the completion of the regeneration of the Royston area.

Although I am not a Glasgow MSP, I know the Royston area well as I worked there for a number of years. I am sure that further local improvement will be welcomed by the exceptionally good people of Royston, some of whom are in the gallery today—I welcome them to their Parliament this afternoon. This Parliament should, indeed, recognise the good work that is being carried out in the Royston area by the local community groups and associations to regenerate their local area. As Cameron Buchanan said, community groups can do something for their area by coming together. I have previous experience of that in my area, but I will not talk about that because you have ruled on that, Presiding Officer.

The work that is being done needs to be recognised. It can help to inspire other areas and show them what can be done when a community is united in improving its area by creating an environment that is attractive to business. On the point that Patricia Ferguson made earlier, vibrant businesses have to be encouraged to stay or to return to the area. This afternoon, I had a meeting with the Scottish Grocers Federation and it was pointed out that little shops and local businesses are the heart of the community. We do not need all these other shops—most of the time, they are bookmakers. There has to be a plan that people can get behind, that is attractive and which can help business to grow and can help to continue to reduce the unemployment rate in Royston.

In a previous life, I was involved in a regeneration area. Basically, all the community groups got together and promoted what they did to the council and the MP. The work that such people do is amazing. They do it for no pay. They do it for their area—for their people and for their children. We should be getting behind them and helping them to do that. That is why I think that today’s motion is one that we can support. We have to work with local people—local councillors and local politicians. I take the point that Patricia Ferguson made about the backing that the leader of Glasgow City Council has given. The council should listen to local people and MSPs to get the situation correct.

The character of the area must be maintained. We must use all the tools at our disposal to make sure that that is done to the benefit of all, while listening to the local community—that is the main thing—and adapting the regeneration policy to its needs and requirements.

What is being done and going to be done in Royston is commendable and should be supported by all politicians, of whatever political party or persuasion. I complement Bob Doris on bringing the debate and on his work—and the work of Patricia Ferguson, whose area Royston is in, too—to ensure that all the organisations involved are given the opportunity to do what they can to improve the area.

I am pleased that this debate has been held, so that individuals who have given up their valuable time—people sitting up in the gallery—for the benefit of others can be recognised, and rightly so. I hope that the debate will lend credence to the call for Glasgow City Council to implement the suggestions of the Royston strategy group to deliver a fitting lasting legacy for Royston—Patricia Ferguson said that the council leader has given a commitment to do that. I wish all involved success in their venture.

Photo of Paul Martin Paul Martin Labour

With great pleasure I will confine my remarks to the motion in Bob Doris’s name, which I support. I can make your job much easier, Presiding Officer, by saying that I am the former MSP for Glasgow Springburn, which included Royston. Indeed, I was elected as a councillor for Royston on 16 December 1993. I was delighted to be Royston’s local representative during those years.

I can amplify many of the points that Bob Doris and Patricia Ferguson made about the good work of local activists in Royston. I can speak in particular of Charlie Lunn, Tilly McIlroy and Jackie Kerr. The three of them led the regeneration process to ensure that local people got access to good-quality housing. We have seen success in Royston and people speak volumes about that because the individuals I referred to ensured that the process was genuinely community led. I say very respectfully that they ensured that the community had its say during those years, particularly from the mid-1990s to 2005 and 2006, when we saw a number of investments that made a significant difference to the area that I would refer to as the Garngad. I was conditioned during my years as an elected representative of the area to call it the Garngad, and I welcome what Patricia Ferguson said about taking forward the issue of its name in 2022.

The challenge that the Rosemount Development Trust faced was the challenge that Bob Doris referred to: the unacceptable employment statistic that we faced. At that stage, 23 per cent of the local population were unemployed. The Rosemount Development Trust wanted to ensure local opportunities for development and opportunities for unemployed people. Challenging that unemployment statistic was a priority for the trust, which is why we developed the Rosemount workspace. As we speak, more than 300 people are employed on that site. That investment is welcome.

As other members have said, it is important that we continue to develop the process and challenge the unacceptable health statistics, but the other challenge that we face in the Garngad—or Royston, as it is referred to in the motion—is educational attainment. I was delighted to be one of the people who led the campaign to ensure that St Roch’s secondary and primary schools were retained in the Garngad. Ensuring that local youngsters have genuine opportunities to improve their educational attainment is absolutely crucial in the Garngad area. Anything that we can do in this Parliament to ensure that action is taken in that respect is extremely important.

This is a good example of local activists ensuring, with the professional support that they have received from the officers involved in the local area, that they genuinely make a difference. We should learn from those lessons. As Patricia Ferguson said, we need to learn from the negative examples of the multistoreys that we are demolishing—looking not that far away—and the positive examples that have been set out in the Garngad area of Glasgow.

Photo of Margaret Burgess Margaret Burgess Scottish National Party

Like others, I am grateful to Bob Doris for highlighting the creation of the Royston strategy group and the positive work that local groups have undertaken for the benefit of the people living in the Royston area of Glasgow. It is right that Parliament takes every opportunity to commend local initiatives that aim to make a real difference to people living and working in their local community.

Tackling poverty is a key priority of this Government. Bob Doris and Paul Martin talked about poverty in the Royston area. Our focus continues to be on maintaining and improving wellbeing for everyone living in Scotland. A community-led approach ensures that we tackle that at grass-roots level.

The Scottish Government’s regeneration strategy, “Achieving a Sustainable Future”, makes clear our continued commitment to community-led regeneration. We recognise the role that community organisations and the people within them can play in bringing about sustainable change. That is why the community-led approach is so important.

The creation of the Royston strategy group brings together passionate and active members of the local community. All members in the debate have commended it for that. Members of the group have come together with the aim of improving the lives of everyone who lives in their community. That is a fitting example of our regeneration vision.

Although a community-led approach is key, an asset-based mindset is also important. Although understanding where additional support needs exist, it is important that our collective focus is on the assets that communities such as Royston have, rather than the deficits of an area. To support communities to be sustainable, we must identify those assets—economic, physical and social—and use them to deliver sustainable positive change. With that in mind, we should always ask, “What makes this place good, where do the opportunities lie and what expertise and skills do local people have?” rather than labelling particular areas or groups of people.

The members of the Royston strategy group are locally based community anchor organisations that value the people who live in the Royston area. Those organisations are already working together to look at, for example, improving housing, employment opportunities and social cohesion. Royston strategy group’s purpose is to look at ways to enhance further the Royston community. All parties and partners involved are enthusiastic about the feasibility study that is under way to look at potential demand for a new community facility.

Through the inspireROYSTON group, the local community has also decided that it is fitting to celebrate 25 years of three of the most well-established organisations in the area: Royston Youth Action, Spire View Housing Association and Rosemount Development Trust. The celebrations began in April, with one of a number of community events, and they will continue until September this year. Events such as those further highlight the valuable impact of the work of volunteers. There is no better example of an asset to a community than the people themselves. It is encouraging to hear that the turnout for the events so far has been fantastic. The local community are fully involved in, and supportive of, all that is being achieved in their area.

The Scottish Government’s Community Empowerment (Scotland) Bill will support communities such as Royston to achieve their own goals and aspirations by taking independent action and by having their voices heard in the decisions that affect their area.

Similarly, the Scottish Government’s people and communities fund supports more than 150 projects across Scotland. It is encouraging that Spire View Housing Association and Royston Youth Action—two members of the new Royston strategy group—are already benefiting from the fund as they continue to deliver regeneration projects in their local communities.

The Scottish Government will continue to support community-led regeneration. I am delighted to say that we have committed a further two years of funding for the people and communities fund for 2015-16, and we will shortly announce a date for the reopening of the fund. That will ensure that community-led projects can continue to be supported to 2016.

The newly created Royston strategy group also consists of a number of community-based housing associations including Blochairn Housing Association, Copperworks Housing Co-operative, Royston corridor homes and Spire View Housing Association. It is clear that we recognise the value of community-controlled housing associations. They know about the issues and needs of their communities. Meaningful regeneration is more than just bricks and mortar. Good-quality affordable housing is important to regenerate communities, but we must also tackle the social and economic issues that prevent communities from growing and flourishing. James Dornan and other members spoke about how it is right that we exchange information across different areas of Glasgow. We can all learn and benefit from sharing good practice. When something good is happening in one area, we can all learn from it and spread that practice. That is something that I would certainly like to see happening.

I recently had the pleasure of visiting Royston Youth Action, when I met the local volunteers and beneficiaries of the service. I was impressed with their commitment and pride in their community, and in what they had achieved for it. That is what struck me most. I had a pleasant time in Royston seeing the garden and talking to young people who had been involved with their community for a long time and continue to be involved. I also visited the Rainbow hall for the start of one of the celebrations. It looked terrific and I could see that the atmosphere was building up to what I am sure was a superb afternoon.

It was clear to me that Royston has a cohesive community with many organisations that have worked together for many years. I hope that they continue to do that because I was very impressed with Royston Youth Action group. As a member has already said, a variety of ages are involved in the group and it was good to see that there are no demarcation lines. Everyone can be part of the group and that is what community-led regeneration is all about.

I congratulate the new Royston strategy group and the inspireROYSTON programme because they are fitting examples of community-led regeneration. I congratulate the group on its work and planning and the work that has already been undertaken on behalf of the local community. I wish the group every success in the future.

Meeting closed at 17:43.