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Is community ownership always best?

You may have heard that the Langholm Initiative is involved in the feasibility of the Townfoot sport centre. The centre was previously managed by Edinburgh Woollen Mill who, upon leaving Langholm for their new offices in Carlisle, decided to close the facility at the end of February this year. We believe that it's important to consider the views and voices of the local community and as such have agreed to look at the potential feasibility of a community-led alternative. At this very early stage, we don't have the answers. We don't currently know if this could be a viable or sustainable project - but we are interested in knowing what you think. We are heading into a new era of community planning. Policy from government level is making it clear that communities need to take the lead in running services and facilities as budgets are cut continually for local authorities. As a sector, we think that empowerment for communities is a great step forward in allowing them to have more say over what happens to resources on their doorstep. However, it's being recognised more and more that communities need to be supported appropriately by government at all levels to deliver services that the public sector can no longer afford. Indeed, Scotland's Regeneration Forum (SURF) represent a number of agencies and organisations within regeneration to make our voices heard at government level, particularly with how legislation and policy affects grassroots delivery. The tide is turning for communities, as it has been for almost ten years now. We can expect to see the onus placed more on "us lot" to provide what we traditionally see as council or government services. But this isn't a bad thing. Having control over services at a local level can allow communities to better direct how those services operate. It can help to ensure that land use is more relevant to the day-to-day economies and purposes of areas. It can ground communities with a better sense of place and ownership and civic pride. Although the Townfoot sport centre isn't a government service or building, it's still part of the landscape and an essential part at that. So we want to invite you to an open discussion Thursday 7th March. We'll just be taking the community's temperature and seeing how best we can move forward with centre's feasibility. We can't make any promises at this stage - and nor will we. But this is a great engagement opportunity for you to come along and make your voices and thoughts heard. We'll be seeing an increased involvement for communities moving forward. Join us at the Buccleuch Centre at 7pm on Thursday 7th March to make your voices heard.

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