Newsletter June 2017

Newcastleton Community Trust recently held an open meeting to update on progress.  As plans are now becoming finalised the board felt we should share this will all the members.

Hub & Fuel Pumps

Fund raising for the hub and fuel forecourt has taken longer than anticipated, a short fall of £220k remains. This funding was to deliver the hub element of the project; fit out the building & business unit interiors and provide for a paid post at a senior level for 2/3 yr contract for a Community Development Officer (CDO) to ensure the success of the project. Their task was to work with the board to help solve the wider issues impacting on us all; flood defences, mobile and broadband solutions, job creation opportunities etc. The Trust firmly believe that Newcastleton should have a development officer and we haven’t given up the challenge of seeking funding to secure one.  However, the board felt with nearly 2 years spent fundraising we need to move forward or risk jeopardising the whole project and lose fuel.

Part of the reason the board made this decision is that many of you are asking when will fuel be available? The longer the decision was left to proceed the more jeopardy was placed on the project.  The light has now turned from amber to green and the fuel project will now commence.

Contracts and legal paperwork are underway and as soon as these are concluded final design and planning approvals will be sought and work to clear the site can begin.  The design team is currently being tendered and once in place anyone wishing to tender for works (demolition, decontamination and construction) please contact us. Drainage, wiring, tanks and pump installations for the fuel will be undertaken by specialist contractors and managed by specialist designers/architects on our behalf.  The board is committed to awarding as much of the work as possible to local contractors.

What will happen with the rear of the site?  This will revert to the original plan for which planning was granted; the rear will be securely fenced and provide space for parking to accommodate vehicles and caravans yielding income to help offset some of the running costs of the site.   It won’t forever be a parking facility, but it will remain as this until the board feels it appropriate to revisit what other uses the space might be better utilised for.   Fees for spaces will be published in due course, please register interest if you would like to reserve a space. There will also be a community storage facility to accommodate community owned things like the Christmas lights, marquees and marketing kits making them more accessible to all.

Broadband Dec/Jan saw the switch on of superfast in the heart of the village. Households within about half a mile of the exchange are receiving up to 50mgs in download and 10 mgs in upload, those outside this range much less.  BT have also upgraded the exchange due to a supply issue and in doing so have improved the old WIFI service, subscribers have seen small increases in speeds previously averaging 3mgs increasing to 7mgs with better uploads as well. Not ideal but getting there.

Beyond the heart of the village things are very different; this was another task for the CDO, so moving forward is a challenge we have yet to overcome. The Trust and community are member of Borders Broadband, the collective of community groups across southern Scotland working together to tackle this issue. You can keep upto date with activity by visiting the web site   Their management team are working on feasibility projects to solve access to superfast across the wider hinterland.  The solution will not be a one size fits all, it will be a mix of various technologies; fibre optic cable, microwave and radio.

Borders Broadband have had confirmation that the capital grant offer for our area is £1.9 million but this needs to provide solutions to some 2,500 premises over wide geographic areas.  We expect to be invited to hear the outcome of the appraisals and then each area will be asked to support the proposals or not.  We will ensure that there is wide coverage of any public event so that many of you can come and hear the options. 

Buccleuch House The Trust is now wholly responsible for BH, a much-loved community facility so it has been challenging to decide how best to move things forward to meet everyone’s needs. Following a long consultation process much consideration has been given on how to remodel the interior making it accessible and usable but at the same time keeping it open so that the many who use it on a regular basis could continue to do so.  We also needed a plan that doesn’t require a small fortune to deliver it!  The plan; upgrade the functionality and accessibility of the building in a staged process starting with the top floor.   This will home a craft studio and host an up-cycling project as well as providing space for craft workshops and wellbeing classes.   We hope over time once the building has had its facelift other local crafters and artists will also join the ‘studio’ either displaying wares or showcasing their skills. Please contact the Trust if you wish to know more details.

The small room which hosted the old computer resource centre will be gutted and refitted with flexible furniture to enable this to be used for meetings as well as other creative groups.  It will also be available to book for anyone who wishes to work or host a meeting in a clean, enabled, warm and connected environment with access to tea and coffee facilities.

The old kitchen will be converted into a small permanent office for the trust and be home to the member of staff and volunteers that will manage the fuel forecourt.  More on these job opportunities later.  There will be a new kitchenette and toilet fitted into the cupboard space on the landing.  When budgets allow a disabled stair lift will be installed.

Plans to upgrade the ground floor will be revisited in 2018 once the planned works for the top floor are completed.  The board is currently seeking quotes from local trades and will then start to seek funding to upgrade the building.

New faces
The board thanks Joan Robson and Pauline Gardner for their immense contribution since the creation of the trust and welcomes Jo Elliot and Toby Tennant who replace them.  If you would like to speak to anyone on the board, express a view about what is happening then please feel free to contact us, details on the web site

We are really excited about the prospect of fuel coming and know many of you are also keen to support the venture.  Watch this space for further announcements, we will be recruiting for a part time job to help manage the site and asking for volunteers going forward.

Enjoy the summer, lots to look forward too….Copshaw Common Riding and Music Festival weekend, the Holm Show and the Elliot Clan Gathering.