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Interim Evaluation of the Ferguslie Park Partnership - Research Findings

DescriptionThis evaluation analyses progress and change over the first five and a half years of The Ferguslie Park Partnership, one of four Partnerships set up by The Scottish Office in 1988.
ISBN0 7480 2942 7
Official Print Publication Date
Website Publication DateDecember 29, 1998
Environment Research Programme Research Findings No. 13 (1995)
Interim Evaluation of the Ferguslie Park Partnership

Lucy Gaster, with Gavin Smart, Lyn Harrison, Ray Forrest and Murray Stewart

ISBN 0-7480-2942-7Publisher The Scottish OfficePrice £5.00
The Ferguslie Park Partnership was launched by The Scottish Office in 1988. It published its strategy in January 1989. This current evaluation, based on documents and interviews, analyses progress and change over the first five and a half years of the Partnership's life. It reports on the processes of inter-agency joint working, and assesses the role of the community and the private sector in all aspects of the Partnership.
Main findings
  • The Partnership has achieved an integrated approach to economic, physical and social regeneration in Ferguslie Park. The high status of agency representatives on the Board, and the positive and co-operative stance of local councillors and the community organisations have been crucial to this level of success.
  • The evolutionary strategy has built in flexibility to meet changing needs, priorities and aspirations. Objectives do need to be clear, however, even as they change.
  • An early emphasis on physical regeneration and a consensus approach have both helped to establish the Partnership's credibility with local people and community groups.
  • An emphasis on improving the skills and self-confidence of those wishing to enter the labour market, including women and others not registered for employment, has achieved considerable success.
  • Social regeneration has taken longer to take off. Education and health provide good models of a community-based, bottom-up approach to effective joint action.
  • Pragmatic action has been taken with respect to poverty: there is now a need for a clearer overall poverty strategy.
  • The Partnership shows clear evidence of 'additionality' and 'synergy'.
  • There has been active involvement from the community and the private sector at all stages.
Ferguslie Park, in Renfrew District and Strathclyde Region, is a housing estate on the north west edge of the town of Paisley. It was built by the local council as a slum clearance area, with the peak building period in the 1930s, when 10,000 people lived there. It is within walking distance of the town centre but has been cut off, physically and psychologically, from the life of the district. It was hemmed in by railway lines, forming a cul de sac; and it suffered from post war discriminatory housing policies and a downward spiral of poverty and social deprivation.
The population declined from 12,200 in 1971 to just over 5,000 people in 1,890 households, in 1988. In that year, 82% of households had total annual incomes of less than £5,000. Skill levels were low and educational qualifications minimal. Low vaccination rates and birthweights of babies were indicators of generally poor health. Housing demolition and lack of environmental maintenance produced a depressing environment, with 53% of the 135 hectares more or less derelict. £44 million had been calculated to be needed to bring existing housing stock up to a reasonable standard. Ferguslie Park was stigmatised by people and employers in Renfrew. By 1988 male unemployment had reached 48%.
The Partnership
Ferguslie Park was chosen in 1988 as one of the four urban areas in Scotland targeted within The Scottish Office's policy, New Life for Urban Scotland. The aim was to bring together key agencies, the community and the private sector to regenerate the estate economically, physically and socially.
The original Partners were: The Scottish Office, Strathclyde Regional Council, Renfrew District Council, Ferguslie League of Action Groups (FLAG), the Scottish Development Agency, the Training Agency, the Housing Corporation in Scotland, the Department of Employment, the Paisley and Renfrew Enterprise Trust (PRET) and the Argyll and Clyde Health Board. By 194 the Partners included Scottish Homes, Renfrewshire Enterprise, Reid Kerr College, Ferguslie Park Housing Association and the Ferguslie Park Business Support Group. After two years of local consultation, a new Community Forum had replaced FLAG in 1993.
The Partnership built on earlier initiatives, in particular the Community Development Project (1972-7) and a Regional/District Council Area Initiative (1984-88). The availability of vacant land, proximity to Glasgow Airport and other development areas were potential assets, as was the existence of a well-established community umbrella organisation, FLAG. The small size of the area was also a possible advantage, making the targeting of resources and effort more visible and, it was hoped, effective.
When the Partnership was declared, sensitive negotiation was required with a number of parties to overcome their doubts and to ensure their active support for a process of comprehensive and integrated regeneration lasting up to 10 years.
Aims and principles
The core issues addressed in the strategy were:
  • Unemployment
  • Poverty
  • A run-down environment
  • Poor housing
  • A bad image
In 1990, a further 'core issue' was added. This was:
  • Education
In addition, other important but not 'core' issues for the Partnership were: to improve the safety of the neighbourhood, to tackle selected health issues and to undertake work on leisure and recreation.
The overall aim of the Partnership was:

To ensure that the people of Ferguslie Park can assume greater responsibility for their own affairs, take a full part in the economic life of Paisley, Renfrew and Glasgow and can live in decent housing in a pleasant environment.

This would be done through reducing the isolation of Ferguslie Park, engaging local people in economic activity, improving housing and the environment, reducing concentrations of deprivation and fostering enterprise and self-reliance so as to enable the community to take responsibility for its own affairs.
Principles and processes of implementation
Principles of implementation were:
  • Visibly acting in harmony, on the basis of consensus
  • Ensuring the active involvement, including appointment to controlling bodies, of both private sector and community representatives
  • Appointing local people to posts 'directing and servicing the implementing mechanisms' and providing training for this as needed.
The Partnership Board consists of senior representatives of each of the Partners. Sub-Groups of the Board develop and supervise detailed policy, using standing and short-life working and task groups as the need arises. All these bring in a wide range of agencies, public, private and voluntary; a large number of groups and individuals from the community have also been involved.
An implementation team, with its own premises in the middle of Ferguslie Park, is led by a Chief Executive seconded from The Scottish Office. It is composed both of officers seconded from certain Partners and of people directly employed through the Partnership's Training, Employment and Enterprise Development Company (TEED). Co-ordination and liaison officers within each of the main Partners sustain communication between the Partnership and the rest of their organisation.
Community representatives have been appointed to all the committees and organisations arising out of the Partnership, including subsidiaries of TEED.
A non-hierarchical style, where individuals work co-operatively across traditional boundaries and develop networks, has allowed enthusiasm and initiative to flourish. This philosophy and culture also applies to the training, education and employment one-stop shop (the COATES Unit) located within the Partnership Office.
Multi-disciplinary, multi-professional and multi-agency work have all taken place, with the Partnership acting as catalyst, support, co-ordinator and, on occasion, the channel for or provider of pump-priming resources.
Physical regeneration
An integrated and phased approach to land use has allowed the process of tenure diversification and the development of the substantial vacant spaces to progress side by side. The role of the Ferguslie Park Housing Association has been considerably enhanced. By 1994, 100 new houses had been built for owner occupation (with 315 more in the pipeline), 329 homes had been built or renovated by the housing association, and the District Council had comprehensively improved 941 properties. In 1988, 97% of households were local authority tenants. This figure had fallen to 70% in 1994, when 8% were owner occupiers (including some existing Ferguslie Park residents) and 21% were housing association tenants.
By 1994 a community park (Glencoats Park), a nursery, a Sports Centre, a police post, and a link road to open up the estate to neighbouring development areas had been completed. A multi-purpose Civic Centre (the "Tannahill Centre") was due to open in mid 1995. Several 'village greens' were planned as an integrating environmental feature.
Economic regeneration
The main aim was to increase the employability of people within the labour markets. The number of people on the Unemployment Register was reduced by 40% between 1988 and 1994. This was a greater reduction than in the surrounding area. It held steady, after the initial sharp fall in 1988-90, through the national recession. 1,479 job placements were recorded by the Partnership between January 1989 and March 1994. The main cause of the recent improvement in employment figures was the economic regeneration work of the Partnership.
The one-stop shop, the employment of local people within the Partnership office, and the work of the Business Support Group established the Partnership's public credibility and targeted services to individual needs, through opportunistic, customised and upskilling programmes. Pre-Employment Training, aiming to redress the lack of educational qualifications, low skill levels, lack of social skills and of self-confidence has been assessed as particularly effective. Women and school-leavers have especially benefited from the flexible local approach.
Social regeneration
The 1993 Education Strategy is seen as a long-term key to the sustained development of Ferguslie Park in future years. This strategy, based on a two-year consultation with local people, aims to build an infrastructure of well educated and employable people, with positive attitudes to education and training. Links with employment and training, with the private and the community sectors and with social work and health provide an excellent basis for achieving 'synergy'.
Work on health issues provides a community led model for action in other aspects of social regeneration: joint work through a voluntary agency and local community groups, especially women's groups, have been the key features. Although the physical, social and economic strategies of the Partnership are all expected to have an effect on poverty, and action on money advice, fuel debt and shopping patterns has been taken, there is no explicit strategy in relation to poverty itself.
Resources and benefits
New and reallocated resources have been brought to Ferguslie Park, mainly related to physical regeneration. Creative financial packages have enabled key projects such as the £4.6m Tannahill Centre to go ahead. Financial inputs from all sources are calculated to have been £63.6 million. This includes £9.5 million Urban Programme monies, allocated through a flexible dedicated budget.
At this stage in the Partnership the relationship between benefits and costs (investment) cannot be conclusively identified: many benefits will not be visible for several years. Nevertheless, there is strong evidence of additionality and synergy. The environmental improvement programme depended on the Partnership's leadership and co-ordinating role: this led private developers to decide to invest in Ferguslie Park. Similar joint effectiveness was visible in the economic field. Social change lags behind, but strong networks have been established. The Partnership is not all-powerful, but it has unquestionably made a major difference in its first five and a half years.
Private sector and community
The private sector has become involved in Ferguslie Park for the first time. This has been through house building and at the philanthropic level of the Business Support Group, in employment and education.
The community, despite the stress of needing to keep up with the Partnership and subsequent reorganisation to enable it to do so, has generally played a strong part, supported by local councillors. Practical support for community members, together with mutual clarity about the level of involvement in decision-making, local management and policy development are the next priorities.
The report concludes that active co-ordination between public and private agencies and with the community benefits not only the physical fabric of run-down areas such as Ferguslie Park, but its people, the wider community and, ultimately, Scotland as a whole.
Some key issues for the future are:
  • Keeping the momentum of the Partnership going during the rest of its designated life.
  • Building on 'best practice' arising from the Partnership process.
  • Considering whether and/or how to sustain consultation, participation and joint working.
  • Considering options for the ownership, management and maintenance of physical assets on the estate.
  • Ensuring the capacity of local people in the community to continue to play a full part, during the Partnership and after it has finished.
  • Clarifying what the Partnership can realistically achieve.
  • Clarifying who, especially in the community, will or should be the beneficiaries of the Partnership.
"Interim Evaluation of the Ferguslie Park Partnership", the research report summarised in this Research Findings, may be purchased (price £5 per copy).
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Further copies of this Research Findings may be obtained from:
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