Last week we were delighted to report the news that we have successfully secured Scottish Land Fund grant assistance for the community of Coigach to purchase the former Achiltibuie Smokehouse and appoint a project officer to develop the building and business. Our appeal for assistance from community members and the Coigach Diaspora to raise the remaining 5% contribution of the purchase price has met with a fantastic response so many, many thanks for the help so far.
It looks like we are now well on target to be ready to take ownership by the middle of the month. We still have a little bit to go, and should we succeed in exceeding our target any extra will warmly welcomed and invested in the future of the Smokehouse development. We promised to supply bank details for anyone who would like to use this quick and easy method to contribute – so here they are:
COIGACH COMMUNITY DEV CO – FUNDRAISER ACC
The Co-operative Bank PLC, Skelmersdale
Account Number: 65637890,
Sort Code: 08 92 99
And of course we are only too happy to receive cheques made out Coigach Community Development Company, c/o J Campbell, Coigach Community Hall, Achiltibuie IV26 2YG.
Thanks again to those generous people who have contributed so far and watch this space for further developments.
Coigach Community Development Company has successfully secured £104,500 towards the £110,000 asking price for the vacant Achiltibuie smokehouse property. We now need to raise the remaining £5,500.
If CCDC succeed in completing the purchase, the award from the Scottish Land Fund will include funding for a project officer to drive forward the developments for the first two years, including help towards refurbishment and development of the building, and support with the establishment of one or more businesses in the premises.
Over many years the smokehouse was a central pillar of our local economy, and now following the departure of Summer Isles Foods it can regain that important role with the help of the community. There have been lots of ideas coming for the development of new and existing businesses in the building, bringing the prospect of steady local employment once more – we just need to complete the purchase!
We have already had some generous people come forward with spontaneous donations towards the funds we need. CCDC would now like to extend an opportunity to everyone who would like to make a contribution to this new, challenging and exciting chapter in the life of the Coigach community by making a small (or large of course…!) financial contribution to it. We need to complete the purchase by mid-March, so unfortunately we don’t have time to organise any big fund-raising events.
Enquiries regarding a contribution can be directed to Julia Campbell (622379 / email@example.com). Cheques should be made out to : Coigach Community Development Company and can be posted to CCDC, FAO J. Campbell, Coigach Community Hall, Achiltibuie, IV26 2YG.
Details of our new fundraising account will be here very soon but we will of course welcome any contributions in the meantime!
Many thanks in advance for every contribution that helps us complete the purchase of the Achiltibuie Smokehouse. We plan to devise a creative way to acknowledge donors when the building is refurbished and welcome ideas for that too, but we will also respect the privacy of those who prefer to remain anonymous.
Thanks to all in Coigach and beyond who have supported us in spirit so far and of course the Big Lottery Fund, HIE and the Scottish Government for the funding award.
Our bid for funding from the Scottish Land Fund has been successful: this means we have 95% of the purchase price of £110k and funding for a project officer to drive forward plans for redevelopment of the former Achiltibuie Smokehouse building. Watch this space for details but in the meantime here is the press release from the Big Lottery Fund:
Scottish Land Fund Grants Awarded
A community in Wester Ross is one of four today (FRI 22 FEB) taking control of their future, thanks to the new Scottish Land Fund, as the first grants are announced.
Launched last year, the £6 million Scottish Land Fund is funded by the Scottish Government and delivered by the Big Lottery Fund in partnership with Highlands and Islands Enterprise. Today’s awards, of over £3/4 million, in Wester Ross, Cowal, Moray Firth, and the Borders means these four communities can now purchase land and assets ensuring they are able to shape their own brighter future.
Scottish Land Fund Committee Chair, John Watt, said: “We know from experience that communities can achieve great things when they own and manage local land and land assets. So I am delighted to announce this first round of funding to these three projects and look forward to seeing them develop. Land ownership helps build independent, resilient and confident communities which benefits, not only themselves, but the country as a whole. The Scottish Land Fund, with funding over three years, aims to empower more rural communities, giving them the tools and resources they need so they can achieve their plans of local sustainability.”
Richard Lochhead, Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs & Environment said, “I am delighted that the Scottish Land Fund is empowering four of our rural communities in Moray Firth, Cowal, Wester Ross and the Borders to take control of their own future by helping them to acquire land and community assets. These innovative and diverse projects will bring clear long term benefits, making each community stronger, resilient and more sustainable. I would urge other communities to look at these projects – three of which are achieved through the community right to buy provisions and the National Forest Land Scheme – to see how community land ownership and funding from the Scottish Land Fund can make a real difference to them.”
Achiltibuie is a remote crofting and fishing community in the Coigach area of Wester Ross. Thanks to today’s Scottish Land Grant of £160,700 the Coigach Community Development Company can purchase Achiltibuie Smokehouse land and buildings and ensure community control of any future development. Ownership of the land and building presents significant potential business growth and employment opportunities for the area. Plans have still to be finalised but it is envisaged that the site will be designed to provide a flexible space accommodating food and tourism industries.
Ian Muir, Chairman, Coigach Community Development Company, said, “This is great news. This time last year we learned that our biggest employer and tourist attraction, Summer Isle Foods, was moving to Alness and, with all these jobs going, things looked gloomy. A year on and, thanks to this funding, we can complete the purchase of the smokehouse they vacated. It’s a very exciting time for us all and we look forward to establishing a vibrant new business to bring employment to the community.”
Alex Paterson, Chief Executive of Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE), which is delivering the Scottish Land Fund in partnership with the Big Lottery Fund, said: “Highlands and Islands Enterprise is delighted to be playing a part in delivering the Scottish Land Fund, along with our colleagues in Big Lottery Fund Scotland. These first four grants, each for very different projects, will empower these community groups and help them to determine their own futures. This announcement is only the beginning of the journey for these groups and for the Land Fund itself.”
We, in partnership with Citizens Online are holding a FREE INTERNET TRAINING DROP-IN SESSION this Wednesday 20 February in Coigach Community Hall.
Do you or someone you know want to find out more about using the internet? Are you missing out on the pleasures of shopping online, social media, and getting information and receiving help now that more and more services are being delivered via the internet? Then this friendly session is just the ticket. Come along on Wednesday have a cup of tea (and a biscuit if you’re lucky) and find out more about our free forthcoming classes led by local tutors (Linda Macleod, Maureen Fraser and Anne Campbell) who will guide you through the maze. All welcome – 11am – 1pm and/or 7pm – 9pm. For further information please contact Local Development Officer Julia Campbell 01854 622 379 firstname.lastname@example.org and please spread the word to your offline friends and family.
Citizens Online is a national charity set up to tackle the issues of digital inclusion, to make sure that the internet is available to everybody and help individuals and communities understand and gain from the benefits of being online.
Last September we were approached by the Wilders/ Williams family who own the island of Tanera Mor. The family announced their intention to sell the island but first wanted to offer CCDC the opportunity to buy the island on behalf of the Coigach community. This was exciting news and following a public meeting, called by Richard Williams on 1st October to discuss the matter, it was agreed to investigate the options further. Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) agreed to fund an options appraisal and financial review to help the community arrive at a decision – either to work towards a community buyout, or if declining, to allow the family to put the island on the open market in spring 2013. Whilst wholeheartedly welcoming the offer of community purchase, CCDC chair Iain Muir sounded a note of caution when he stated that CCDC’s ability to take on the project would be a stumbling block: CCDC is run by a board of voluntary directors with two part-time development officers who are already working at full stretch on a number of important projects for community benefit.
Consultants were invited to tender for the options appraisal and financial review in December and Munro Gauld, who has considerable experience in community land management, was appointed to start work on the options appraisal, and accountants Scott-Moncrieff were appointed to undertake the financial review. Following a very thorough investigation, and broad community consultation via a questionnaire that went to every resident household in Coigach, Munro presented the findings of both studies to another Public Meeting called by CCDC on Thursday 7th February in Coigach Community Hall. It was clear from the appraisal and return from the questionnaires that while there was a very positive response to the Wilders’ generosity in their offer to the community, it was regrettably too large a project for the community to take on at present.
It was a good humoured and cheerful meeting with many thoughtful, imaginative and positive comments from those present who confirmed the findings of the appraisal: that while community purchase may not be an option, working with the Wilders and Williams to promote the sale could be extremely beneficial to all concerned. What the appraisal also revealed, was that buying Tanera presented a fantastic opportunity for someone – or a group – with resources, energy and enthusiasm who can work with the community to realise its full potential as an integral part of Coigach.
The largest, and only inhabited of the Summer Isles, Tanera attracts yachts, cruisers and watersports enthusiasts as well as visitors to its residential activity holidays, café, and world famous Summer Isles Post Office which publishes its own stamps. The new owners, whoever they turn out to be, have the opportunity of not only owning a fantastic island surrounded by spectacular scenery, but of being part of a strong, vibrant Highland community.
The meeting concluded with a proposal from the Chair that: ‘We support the conclusion of the questionnaire that we do not pursue the generous offer made for community purchase of Tanera Mor. In coming to this conclusion we recognise that the future of the island plays an important part in the future of the wider Coigach community. As such we undertake to assist the owners in finding a purchaser who will serve the interests of both them and the rest of the community’. The proposal was supported by a show of hands in favour.
CCDC will continue to work enthusiastically on its many other projects in hand which include proposals to erect a community wind turbine to generate much needed income which will be used for social housing , workshop units to encourage business activity and to support other local organisations, facilities and initiatives. Other projects include a micro hydro scheme in partnership with local landowner Scottish Wildlife Trust, a feasibility study with a view to community purchase of the local piers, and the Achiltibuie Smokehouse which the Company is also hoping to purchase through the Community Right to Buy process.
Coigach Community Development Company are keen to acknowledge the generosity and co-operation of Bill and Jean Wilder, their sons Jack and Harry, and their daughter and son in law Lizzie and Richard Williams in offering the community the opportunity to buy Tanera, and the information and help they have supplied so far. While we are declining with regret, we look forward to working together towards a positive outcome for all. We would also like to thank HIE for their help in funding the studies undertaken to help in the process, and all those community members who took part in the consultations and meetings.
The Wilder family greatly appreciate the effort made by the community of Coigach to consider the opportunity of taking on Tanera. We fully understand their reasons for deciding not to, and we hope that whoever owns the Island in the future will enjoy the same warm and cooperative relationship with the community that we have for the past 17 years.
Coigach Community Development Company invite you to a
Public Meeting on Thursday 7th February at 7.30pm in Coigach Community Hall, Achiltibuie.
Following community consultation and an options appraisal, our consultant Munro Gauld will present his findings. At a public meeting in early October, it was agreed to carry out an indpendent appraisal so we could look at whether a community purchase is viable and to consider the options from a different perspective.
For further information please contact Julia Campbell 01854 622 379 email@example.com
The current owners of Tanera Mor have decided to sell the island and have offered Coigach Community Development Company (CCDC) the opportunity to buy the island on behalf of the community of Coigach. The owners’ agents CKD Galbraith, have assessed the value as being approximately £2.6m.
A consultant, Munro Gauld, has been appointed to carry out a quick options appraisal in order that the community can make an informed decision to either pursue the matter and seek funding or if declining, enable the current owners to put the island on the open market in Spring 2013.
As part of this process we would like to find out your views as a local resident and would be grateful if you would complete a questionnaire – available here: Tanera Mor Community Survey Questionnaire 18.1.13 then return it to either Achiltibuie Stores, Polbain Stores, or directly to the consultant Munro Gauld, West Tofts Cottage, Stanley, Perthshire PH1 4PG firstname.lastname@example.org All responses will be treated as confidential.
The results of the Options Appraisal and Community Views Survey and will be presented at a Public Meeting on Thursday 7th February at 7.30pm in Coigach Village Hall.
Julia Campbell, CCDC, Coigach Community Hall, Achiltibuie, 07745 205 433 / 01854 622 379. email: email@example.com
As part of his study, Munro visited Tanera on Thursday 18th Jan, where Richard Williams (representing the current owners) showed him round some of the houses, the cafe and took a spin round the bay to get an idea of what was on offer. All aboard the Patricia, with Richard at the helm were Munro, Lesley Muir (local resident and member of CCDC) and Julia Campbell Local Development Officer: all enjoying the glorious sunshine and the fair shipping conditions!
Another busy year for CCDC beckons! With fresh new diaries on their desks, the staff and directors are looking at their To Do lists and bashing on with implementing the community development plan and working towards Coigach’s future sustainability.
Tanera: We will shortly select a consultant to carry out a quick appraisal of options to look at the pros and cons of possible purchase of the island for the community. This will enable us to make an informed decision regarding purchase and it will be helpful to all to look at the possibilities from a different viewpoint.
The Smokehouse: Having cleared many of the hurdles of the community right to buy process, we are nearing a crucial point in the proceedings. If funding is firmly secured, we should be in a position to purchase soon – but there’s still a bit of work to do so watch this space and see what the Spring brings!
Housing & Workshop Units – still on the agenda, still working towards achieving these essentials on the community wish list!
Badentarbet Pier & Old Dornie Harbour: the feasibility study is still ongoing. Wallace Stone have carried out extensive surveying and consultation work and now Steve Westbrook is looking at the economics. Hopefully we’ll soon have a draft report of their findings which will give us further information to look at the scope for community ownership and/or developments and improvements.
Renewable Energy: work continues through our subsiduary companies Coigach Wind Power Ltd (community wind turbine) and Ben Mor Hydro (joint hydro power venture with Scottish Wildlife Trust) to drive these projects forward and closer to our goal of a sustainable income – to help with all the projects above and more.
CCDC and Citizens Online will shortly be embarking on informal training sessions for local people who would like to use the internet and who might be missing out if they don’t know how. Sessions will be kicking off soon so if you know someone that could benefit from accessing services, shopping, travel (and fun!) online please contact firstname.lastname@example.org . Training will be free, friendly and local – in the hall with a cup of tea.
And we (LDOs) are particularly pleased to report that funding and contracts for the Local Development Officer (LDO) post has been extended to include 2013 so that’s a good start! Peter Muir and Julia Campbell will continue to share the post and are can be contacted by email email@example.com by phone: Peter 01854 622 444, Julia 01854 622 379, visited in the hall most Wednesday mornings from 10am – or stopped in the road, post office or shops if you have any queries, comments, suggestions or ideas.