COIGACH COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT COMPANY
HOW WE GOT TO WHERE WE ARE – A series of open meetings have been held.
10th July 2008 – There was general consensus that there were many issues affecting our community and its future sustainability. It was decided to explore the possibility of getting funding for a community development officer to explore various issues and take them forward.
Outcome: Seek funding for a Development Officer.
27th Feb 2009 –After investigation it became apparent that there was no longer funding for development officers unless a community had a specific project or plan in place. An open meeting was called to discuss how to proceed. A long list of concerns affecting our future was identified as well as discussion on our achievements as a community.
Outcome: Invite Local Community Groups to identify a representative to form Community Development Steering Group.
23rd March 2009 – Steering Group meet to organise a public community meeting/workshop which would elicit ideas and possible solutions to problems. By being open to all ideas it was hoped a plan would emerge which could be written up and used as the kind of document needed to access funding. It was agreed that someone independent should chair this event.
Outcome: Decision to hold community meeting/workshop day to identify community strengths and threats which could be start of a Development Plan. Application made to HIE for independent facilitator to Chair event.
7th May 2009 – John McKintosh (independent facilitator who was funded by HIE) came to a meeting with the Steering Group to discuss format of ‘Have Your Say Day’.
Outcome: John McKintosh (Independent Facilitator) discussed the format of ‘Have Your Say Day’. The purpose of the day: ‘To obtain consensus from the Community on the ideas/issues/suggestions they would like focused on/progressed to further improve the Coigach Community and build on the excellent work that has already been done and accomplishments achieved’
11th July 2009 – ‘HAVE YOUR SAY DAY’ – Chaired by John McKintosh. The day consisted of a brainstorming session where those present was asked to list ideas/issues. Then from a list of 16 agreed issues/ideas, those in attendance were split into 3 groups, asked to discuss further and then rank in order of priority. From a list of 16 the following were top scorers:
Community Owned Housing, Industrial Units, Energy Sources/Funding, Land Access, Two Piers, Landscape Restoration, Tourist Facilities/Branding
Outcome: A list of priorities was identified by means of idea sharing and discussion. Steering Group expanded to include those present.
14th July 2009 – Meeting of new Steering Group. Decided to explore the setting up of a Community Development Trust as a way of taking the identified subject headings forward. An invitation to be sent to Development Trusts Association Scotland and Highlands and Islands Enterprise to come to Coigach and speak to Steering Group.
Outcome: Invitation to DTAS and HIE extended.
5th August 2009 – Wendy Reid (Development Trusts Association Scotland) and Lindsay Campbell (Highlands and Islands Enterprise) came to an open meeting in the Hall. Wendy and Lindsay considered that we were quite well progressed, as we had identified projects the community wished to move forward. Steering Group now wishes to get feedback from the wider community on their proposal to set up a Community Development Company.
Outcome: A wish to establish a Community Development Trust. Need to inform and recruit wider community.
COIGACH DEVELOPMENT TRUST WORKING GROUP
NOTE OF MEETING 22nd SEPTEMBER 2009
Present: Iain Muir (Chair), Alison Hitchings (Note of Meeting), Alasdair Fraser(106), Lesley Muir, Nick Clooney, Cathy MacNeilage, Dorothy Miller, Muriel Muir, Beryl Morgan, Linda Heaney, Ian Macleod (PO), David Heaney, Ann Macleod (Ali Beag), Peter Haring, John Gunn, Alasdair Fraser (School), Margaret Starling, Aileen Muir, Ali Macleod (Post), Ben Walton, Phil Shaughnessy, Steve Husband, Pauline Ward, Bill Drake, Apologies (with expression of support for the establishment of a Development Trust): Harry Hassall, Annie Sinclair, Diana Hassall, Keith Dunbar, Anne Macleod (Bus), Anne Girvan, Iain Campbell, Gerry Irvine, Hamish Sinclair.
Iain Muir welcomed all and gave some background to the reason for calling the meeting. For some time it has been felt by a sizable group that there were a number of issues converging and threatening the community. Dwindling school role, lack of affordable housing, state of piers (especially Badentarbet), primary health care issues were some that were identified. Through the Community Council it was decided to form a Community Development working group. This group has held a number of open meetings which resulted in a ‘Have Your Say Day’ where members of the community were encouraged to list and prioritise the topics which most concerned them.
Iain continued by pointing out a number of opportunities for the community also emerging. These included a favourable political climate encouraging community development, new funding mechanisms such as SRDP, opportunities to learn from other communities who have already established Development Trusts, and advice from organisations such as the Development Trust Association Scotland and HIE keen to support communities. Also, Scottish Wildlife Trust as one of the local landowners had expressed an interest in engaging with community development, and North West Highlands Geopark, in which Coigach sits, is embarking on a funded three year development programme to support the economies of its communities.
Iain explained that the group had created a newsletter detailing the work undertaken so far and had tried to distribute to every occupied house in Coigach. As well as giving historical background to the group, the newsletter had also extended an invitation to this meeting and informed residents that the Working Group sought approval for the establishment of our own Development Trust in Coigach.
Iain introduced Duncan MacInnes from Sleat Community Trust in the south end of Skye who was the first of the invited speakers.
Duncan gave a brief history of how their Trust in Sleat has developed since it was formed in 2004.
Sleat Community Trust has undertaken numerous reports including Care and Transport studies, the purchase of 1,000 acres of forestry, and is funding a detailed community master-plan. It secured a house for rent, the local garage, fuel and visitor services in 2007, with a £280,000 Big Lottery Grant. Recently it has acquired the local Post Office which was put up for sale.
Duncan explained that these were all community assets that could have been lost. A trading arm had been established (Sleat Renewables Ltd) which operates a business supplying wood-chip to the Gaelic College bio-mass boiler and it is investigating a community wind turbine. They have a full time development officer who has created the ‘Clean Sleat’ project to reduce carbon emissions within the community.
Duncan concluded his talk by encouraging those present to set up their own Development Trust as he believed this was the best vehicle to react to any opportunities or threats which may face the community.
Iain Muir then introduced Diane Campbell from Ullapool Community Trust (UCT) who explained the reasons for the creation of the Trust in Ullapool. Diane explained that Lochbroom Community Council applied to become one of the 27 community groups throughout Scotland who were awarded funding for a Community Powerdown Project Officer. Community Powerdown is a consortium of the successful community groups, Community Energy Scotland and the Development Trust Association Scotland (DTAS) and was set up to help communities tackle climate change by reducing their carbon dioxide emissions. UCT was established to administer this project and although it is concentrating on energy issues at the moment Diane explained that the Trust would evolve and spread into other areas in the near future. Diane also emphasised the help and assistance that established Community Trusts could provide to new groups.
During the question and answer session there was some discussion on how a Development Trust would be constituted and it was agreed that there are a number of bodies who provide help with this. Highlands and Islands Enterprise and the Development Trust Association Scotland were identified as two who would assist with the Memorandum and Articles of Association for such a Trust.
Following questions, Iain Muir put a proposal to the audience that the Working Group should move ahead with the formation of a Development Trust for Coigach. This proposal met with unanimous agreement. It was agreed that this would be pursued with an early meeting of the Working Group.
Beryl Morgan and Margaret Starling volunteered to join any Health sub-group such a Development Trust may establish in the future.
Iain thanked the guest speakers and those who attended and the meeting closed at approximately 9pm.