EDAS Community Wealth Building Open Session 2

The EDAS Community Wealth Building Open Session 3, titled, ‘Anchors, Community Planning and Partnerships’, explored the institutional structures and processes to accelerate Community Wealth Building (CWB).

With a focus on anchors, the session looked at how CWB activity is being pursued through anchor strategies, regional economic partnerships, community planning partnerships and other regional groupings.

Participants heard from key individuals and practitioners from anchor organisations and economic development agencies, exploring what can be improved and how we create clear enabling partnership platforms for CWB to scale, amplify and advance.


• Linda Christie, EDAS
• Neil McInroy, Community Wealth Building Advisor, Scottish Government
• Michael Breen, Vice Principal at Ayrshire College
• Ross Martin, Chair of Forth Valley College, Adviser on Regional Economies and Member of Forth Valley Connectivity Commission
• Karen Jackson, Director of Strategy, Partnership and Engagement, South of Scotland Enterprise
• Martin Higgins, Head of Partnership and Place, NHS Lothian


Recording of session

Click on the video below to play. You can download the slides here.

Key points from speakers


Michael Breen, Vice Principal at Ayrshire College

  • Michael started by outlining the definition of Anchor institutions: organisations which are rooted in their particular place by their mission, histories, physically fixed land, assets and who have been / will be present for a long time.
  • Ayrshire is a truly regional approach spanning all three Ayrshire local authorities. To demonstrate how Community Wealth Building encourages growth in the wider community as well as helping the College meet its own targets, Michael went on to provide three examples, against three of the Ayrshire CWB pillars.
  • The first: procurement. Ayrshire College committed to a project with a local charity who proposed the implementation of renewable technology in the nearby River Ayr. By committing to the project, the charity gain longevity to tackle fuel poverty in the area; Ayrshire College’s gains are clean energy, at a lower rate than the national average, all whilst helping them achieve their long term ambition of being Net Zero by 2040.
  • The second: land and assets. Vacant land behind the Kilwinning Campus was transferred to the College for the nominal fee of £1 by North Ayrshire Council, as well as £200k of additional funding. This land has now been used, in part, to create “The Willie Mackie Future Skills Hub” which will support skills development in alignment with priorities set out by the Ayrshire Regional Growth Deal. Other parts of the land, not used for the skills hub has provided outside space for curriculum use.
  • The third: Fair employment. The Fair Employment Workstream has been established to take forward anchor pledges. Current focuses are: work towards becoming a Living Wage employer, recruit locally (including from priority groups), commit to safe, secure employment, address gender pay imbalances and ensure workers have access to trade unions.

Karen Jackson, Director of Strategy, Partnership and Engagement, South of Scotland Enterprise

  • Karen began by setting out the context for the South of Scotland. Spread across two local authorities, spanning from East to West, South of Scotland has an aging population, a rural economy, and significant amounts of young people leave due to perceived lack of opportunities. It was one of five geographic pathfinders identified by Scottish Government.
  • Alongside implementation of CWB themes, the Regional Economic Partnership was developing the first ever Regional Economic Strategy for the South of Scotland. Chaired by Local Authorities, this brings together public sector organisations, economic development agencies, private sector organisations, higher education, housing, third sector and communities. The diversity of perspective has been key to developing the strategy beyond what is traditional. Four key themes were identified: Sharing prosperity, making the most of our potential, thinking differently, and pioneering environmental responsibility.
  • The Framework for Action by 2031 is focused around six key themes: Skilled and ambitious people, innovative and enterprising, rewarding and fair work, cultural and creative excellence, green and sustainable economy, thriving and distinct communities.

Ross Martin, Chair of Forth Valley College, Adviser on Regional Economies and Member of Forth Valley Connectivity Commission

  • Ross began by providing a little context. Forth Valley, and Scotland, have three ‘opportunities’: productivity, innovation and internationalisation.
  • There are two mechanisms to enact change: change the fiscal framework, legislation and regulations (the standard approach) or work on softer elements like attitude, behaviour and mindset. Forth Valley are prioritising the latter.
  • Forth Valley brings together the three local authorities, anchor institutions from public sector, and key industrial players to drive actions across three focus areas: Net Zero, Productive Innovation and Wellbeing Economy through Community Wealth Building.

Martin Higgins, Head of Partnership and Place, NHS Lothian

  • NHS Lothian operates partnership and place work through an Anchor Institution Programme Board which is chaired by the Director of Public Health. This board facilitate actions around key areas like land and assets, living wage, community benefit clauses.
  • Against combined approaches like that of the Ayrshire Growth Deal, work in Lothian spans four local authority areas which are strikingly different, as such the approaches differ for each.
  • NHS Lothian are involved in Big Deal 9, which is part of South of Scotland City Region Deal. As an anchor, challenges lie in governance, prioritising actions and working efficiently across 32 local authorities, 14 area health boards and 12 city / regional growth deals.