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Helmsdale & District Development Group The first edition of the Community Newsletter has been sent out with the Northern Times (dated 17/12/10) along with a Community Consultation Sheet. A supply is being sent to Kinbrace for the Strath. Further copies will be available from the Library and the Post Office. Please take the time to read the Newsletter and complete the Consultation form. This is Your Community and we need Your support. Thank you

Helmsdale & District Development Group

Community Newsletter December 2010
As you probably know this post was created this year and I started work on the 12 July 2010. Funding for this post comes from LEADER and Highlands and Islands Enterprise. The Helmsdale and District Development Group (HDDG) had already done a huge amount of work on a Development Plan for Helmsdale & District and I was able, very quickly, to pick this up and to start to look at various projects that have, and have since been, suggested. I have noted in this Newsletter, brief details about some of the projects, and the progress made. If you are interested in any of these, or any other projects, please contact me, either by calling in to the Community Centre Dunrobin Street or by telephoning me on 821141 Thanks Pete Carson – Local Development Officer

Coppice / Woodland
A possible project was suggested by Mike Ellis of Bual Cottage. As a fully
qualified and certificated Coppicer (the only one in Scotland) he had noticed a coppice at The Marrel which has not been worked for an estimated 100 years. He asked that permission be sought from the owner – Sutherland Estates – to allow him to rework the woodland. This has now grown to include a possible link to the Open College Network with a view to becoming the only UK centre for running SVQ Level 2 (and above) Courses in Coppice work and Coppice products. There would be an element of training available for local people and for the local school children.

Farmers’ Market
The wealth of produce and local craft expertise in our area has led to the proposal that a regular Farmers’ Market be developed in Helmsdale. This would include produce from the land, the sea and would also give anyone involved in the many crafts in the area such as candle-making, jewelry and other like pastimes, a chance to let others see what can be done.

Core Paths
Funding was applied for to clear and open up all of the local core paths. This work would include clearing weeds and overhanging bushes and also working on the leveling of the paths. It would mean that those who currently walk the paths would have an easier time but also anyone thinking about starting walking as a hobby would find it less of a struggle. However, although we were unsuccessful in our application, there may still be a chance for us to get funding early in 2011 as we have been placed on a ‘reserve list’ after our first application.

Composting Site
GREAN in Golspie have applied to start a composting site in villages that do not have a garden refuse collection. This includes Helmsdale and work has been going on to find a suitable site. Also there have been two Community trips to Golspie to look at the Community garden there and it is hoped, when suitable ground is found in the village, that these two projects can be combined. The problem with projects such as these is finding available land in the village that can be identified for use also obtaining the permission of the owner of that land for the Community to use it. This is being worked on at the moment and hopefully this project will go ahead.

Boat Building / Rowing Club.
An interest was expressed by a couple of folk in the village to buy a boat kit, build a skiff, form a club and become involved in racing groups from other areas. When the project was researched it was found that quite a lot of communities like ours either already have such a club or are in the process of forming one. Fund raising was discussed and an application submitted. The interest has grown and the plan would be to build the boat – at least one – and have a ladies’ section, junior section, men’s section and seniors’ section. Premises has been found, down at the harbour, in which to build the boat over the winter. It would be hoped to have an annual Boat Fest where other Communities could bring their boats to Helmsdale, and races could be held around a ‘Harbour Day’ type of occasion. An application is being completed for funding to the Highland Council Ward Discretionary Budget and depending on the success of that – it will be known if more funding will be needed. An award of £ 200 has already been made by the Sutherland Sports’ Council.

Community Energy
No matter what people think of renewable energy, living in the Highlands we are bound to have proposals around us for wind farms. These can either be on land or out at sea. Either way if they are to be based around Helmsdale it would be hoped that the community can benefit in some way. This is often by way of money for community projects and it is to be hoped that any farms that are built anywhere near our area would financially benefit Helmsdale.

Helmsdale Station
Mr Mike Wilmott is already well ahead with plans and applications for funding to restore Helmsdale Railway Station to its former glory. The idea is to use it as accommodation for visitors, with an interest in railways, and in return for some work on the building or surrounding grounds, visitors would be offered a discount on the accommodation. Full plans for the proposal can be viewed at the office in the Community centre. Mike has had to do a huge amount of work and has resubmitted the plan many times due to more and more demands eg HC Planning.

However, it is hoped that his perseverance will pay off.

Petrol Station.
This is one project that interests the whole community. Other places, such as Applecross, have already reopened their filling station as a Community project. Discussion has taken place and costs have been estimated. A lot of work needs to be done to ensure the electrical wiring, pipes, pumps and tanks are up to standard and also to identify funding. A site inspection has taken place – funded by Highland and Islands Enterprise – and we await the result. However, the Filling Station would only be viable if a level of sales from local people and from passing traffic is sufficient to generate the profit.

Notice Boards
It is felt that there is a lack of information readily available for local people and for visitors to the area. The suggestion was firstly, provide a Community Notice Board, at the Bridge Hotel Car Park adjacent to the telephone box, for Individuals and Community Groups to display information. This is already in place. Secondly, to replace the Notice Board at the Car Park at the entrance to Coupars Park, with one giving information to encourage visitors to come into the Village and stay awhile. Thirdly, to update the existing Notice Board, opposite the Community Centre, with photographs, information and a map and on the reverse useful information eg Bank hours/ATM, the Medical Centre and Accommodation etc. for Visitors.

Some of the above are being referred to as ‘Community Projects’ but it is only with involvement from members of the Community that any of these can really develop. All members of the Community are urged to support - and become involved in – some, or all of the above projects. Also if there are any ideas out there – please don’t keep them to yourself. Come and share them and let’s see if we can make more of them a reality. Thanks.

Pete Carson
Local Development Officer, Tel 01431 821141

Helmsdale & District Development Group, Growth at the Edge Initiative Community Centre, Dunrobin Street, Helmsdale KW8 6JA

email [email protected]

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