News from the districts – November 1, 2019

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Gigha

Ambitious new plans to improve visitor facilities on the Isle of Gigha have secured a £135,000 investment from Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE).

Gigha Trading Limited (GTL), a wholly owned subsidiary of the Isle of Gigha Heritage Trust (IGTH), is creating a motorhome and campsite over the next year.

This is in response to the increasing numbers of visitors to the island since the Scottish Government introduced the Road Equivalent Tariff scheme on ferries.

The new development will offer purpose-built camping and motorhome facilities close to the ferry pier and with access to the beach. It will include a new toilet, shower, laundry and kitchen building, 15 new camping pitches and 10 motor home pitches, most of which will have hook-ups.

The total project will cost around £336,000. In addition to HIE’s contribution will be an award of £171,000 from the Rural Tourism Infrastructure Fund, with the balance from IGHT.

It is expected that the modern site will strengthen the local economy by an additional £225,000 a year and that other businesses on Gigha will benefit from the increase in footfall and visitor spend.

The Isle of Gigha camp and motorhome site is due to welcome its first visitors in autumn 2020, after which it will be open throughout the year.

Bute

Strategic planning to secure a strong, sustainable future for the Mount Stuart Trust and the Isle of Bute is at an advanced stage, with key decisions expected by spring 2020.

Speaking ahead of the next phase of community consultations, Colin Boag, managing director of Mount Stuart Trust, said: ‘We are working intensively with community groups, Argyll and Bute Council and the Scottish Land Commission to develop a range of initiatives to improve the rural and urban landscapes on the island of Bute and to unlock growth opportunities for the local economy.

‘There is a great sense of purpose and commitment from everyone involved. This is matched by a desire to make progress on a number of crucial projects. The trust will conclude a strategic review by the end of the year. In conducting this 10-15 year ‘look forward’, we have been well supported through discussions with individuals and community bodies across the island.

‘As part of the overall review, we are creating a specific rural strategy focussed on building a sound, sustainable future for farming and forestry on the island. Following an initial consultation with key stakeholders in July, we are developing the rural strategy through a number of joint working groups. These are examining key priorities including dairy farming, rural training and skills, forestry development and the environment.

‘Our emerging rural strategy builds on work completed with Argyll and Bute Council to support their bid to the Scottish and UK governments for a multi-million-pound Rural Growth Deal. Working together with the council, Fyne Futures and the Bute Island Alliance, we drew up a proposal for investment of £3million to pilot on Bute a new transformative rural development model for niche food and drink and primary island industries.

The trust is also consulting with local communities about the proposals to release urban land for community projects. This important work is being conducted in line with the Scottish Land Commission’s protocol on community engagement.

In August, Mount Stuart Trust, with Scottish Land Commission representatives, held an urban community workshop with key community organisations in Rothesay. Discussion centred on how potential community projects could utilise land in Rothesay, which is currently in either council or trust ownership.

Colin Boag added: ‘Throughout the discussions with various community representatives, a number of local groups have expressed interest to make use of some or all of the land on offer. We welcome their interest in creating opportunities for positive change on the Isle of Bute.

‘I am confident that the depth of collaboration between Argyll and Bute Council, the Land Commission, local communities and the trust is set bring a strong sense of renewal and confidence to the island.’

Lochgilphead

It was a trip to the Co-op and trollies at the ready for Lochgilphead High School pupils, as they were set a mission in aid of the Argyll Foodbank.

Staff from the school divided the group of S6 pupils into teams, giving each an individual budget to stick to. The senior students were then tasked with spending their money on Halloween treats that would later be donated to the local foodbank at Kilmory.

Funds for the shopping trip were raised by a staff pumpkin carving session. Pumpkins, grown by the school’s science department, have been purchased by staff in preparation for the carving event that will take place next week. The money raised from this was then matched by school funds to give an overall budget of £90.

Over 70 items were purchased by the pupils on Thursday October 24, using their Young Scot cards to benefit from a 10 per cent discount and remembering to collect valuable points on their Co-op membership cards.

The school has decided to make contributions to the food bank throughout the year, particularly focusing on Easter, Halloween and Christmas.