Tuesday, 1 November 2016

My column in this weeks Visiter

I'm not sure what the collective noun for a group of Community Interest Companies (CIC) is; an enterprise? an innovation? maybe it should be a hope of CICs. My visit to Safe Regeneration at the site of the former St Mary's School in Bootle definitely filled me with optimism. CICs are social enterprises that want to use their profits and assets for the public good.

I was shown around by Jane Johnson, development manager, and
Su Grainger from the Community Choir 'Sing your Socks Off . I met artists, dancers, mosaic makers, joiners, gardeners, bee keepers and people who described themselves as technology nerds.

I was very impressed with the group set up for people experiencing early onset dementia. I don't think I have ever encountered anything as positive or as successful in this area of work. I spoke with family members and those with the condition and they were full of praise for the group called Natural Steps.

A cluster of technology CICs including The Nerdy Gift Co. who had lots of innovative ideas and Little Sandbox who run a technology club for youngsters. They had a 3D printer and in preparation for Halloween they had produce a pumpkin!  Next door was Periscope Productions who are film/video makers. They were turning out high quality films and were successful getting work from the public and private sectors.

Another focus for SAFE’s work is around environmental issues. Their poly tunnel and raised bed were clearly very productive but I was taken by the honey making operation and was delighted when they gave me a jar made by Boss Bootle Bees.

St. Mary's hub opens on to the Leeds Liverpool Canal and, not surprisingly, there are ambitious plans to develop it. I was particularly pleased to hear about their ideas for housing including self-build and shared equity. The parcel of land also includes a former pub and they have plans to open it and to develop a new enterprises including hotel accommodation. I would not be at all surprised if in a few years the Carolina Basin becomes the preferred stopping off point for canal users making their way to the Albert Dock.

As I hope you can tell I was thoroughly impressed by my visit to the St Mary's hub. You can read about all my work as Mayor on http://themayoralblog.blogspot.co.uk/

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