Issue 11, October 2011
Special points of interest: NCDC needs your views. Please return our surveys Would you like to become a member? We fight da slokkin o da light
Latest news at Greenbrae fae Maree & Cynthia It’s been a while since we last published a newsletter. This isn’t because there wasn’t any news to put it; quite the contrary. We’ve been dat busy working on projects that we haven’t had enough time to get the newsletter out as well! We do try to keep folk updated through the weekly North Mainland Notes in the Shetland Times though.
NCDC AGM and polytunnel soiree 21st November, Sullom Hall nortenergy - new community owned company
Our staff We’re delighted to welcome a new staff member to the team. Cynthia Poleson fae Gluss has joined us as admin support officer on a part-time basis. Cynthia replaces Marie Smith from Ronas Voe, who left us earlier this year to pursue a new career in social care. We wish Marie all the best and would like to say thanks for her work with us. I’ve been the project officer for over four years now and I’m still really enjoying the job. It’s fantastic that we’ve been able to work on some ‘real’ projects now, like the Hillswick shop, the houses at North Roe and the amenity building at the Collafirth Pier.
‘Cynthia Poleson fae Gluss has joined us as admin support worker on a part-time basis’
NCDC Contact details: Community Project Officer—Maree Hay Admin Support Officer—Cynthia Poleson Greenbrae, South Collafirth Ollaberry Shetland Telephone 01806 544222 E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
NCDC Directors The NCDC is managed by a board of nine volunteer directors who are all full-time residents of Northmavine. We’re lucky that we have a few folk on the board that have been round since the group first started in 2004, so they provide continuity to the organisation. We’re also pleased that we’ve been able to attract new directors to the board over the years and they provide new ideas and add a new vibrancy. Current board members are: Margaret Roberts, Gluss, Ollaberry – Chair John Alex Cromarty, Lochend – Vice Chair Malcolm Thomson, Leon, Ollaberry – Treasurer/Secretary Alistair Williamson, Urafirth Drew Ratter, Ronas Voe Jen Mowat, Hillswick Jane Brown, Ollaberry Pete Bevington, Hillswick Susan Bowie, Hillswick 1
A bigger picter We’d like the updated Northmavine community development plan to take account of as many future development plans in Northmavine as it can. The idea is that we produce a plan for the WHOLE of Northmavine that reflects the future projects and plans that all groups and businesses have. A bigger picter. This is not to say that NCDC will be the organisation that carries out all the projects. For example, maybe a local hall is planning some refurbishment work or a local business is looking to grow some aspect of their enterprise. The project would be done by that group or that business, but the need for it would be identified in the Northmavine development plan. Having the needs identified in our plan could mean a better opportunity for that project to access funding or support from outside agencies. We’ll be contacting community groups soon to have a general chat about how things are going and find out if you have any new projects you’d like to add to the plan, but in the meantime if you’d like to discuss anything, please get in touch.
Your Views We’re updating the Northmavine community development plan again. It’s important that the plan reflects the current issues folk feel we should be working on. Our main priority themes are Social Enterprise/ Business, Housing and Renewables. During the remainder of this year and early next year we’ll undertake a number of surveys and consultation sessions to find out what folk in Northmavine think we should focus on in the future and what the priority should be. The first of the surveys are included with this newsletter and we would encourage you to use the opportunity to get your views across. I hope we have shown that your responses to previous consultations haven’t just been shoved in a cupboard and forgotten about. For example, the results of the housing survey were used to convince the Scottish Government that social housing was needed in Northmavine. This resulted in two new houses at North Roe, so it IS worth telling us what you think. We obviously can’t please everyone, but we do the best we can with the information we receive from you, and the funds we are able to raise. We’re always keen to hear your ideas for future development and would encourage you to get in touch – give us a phone, drop us an e-mail or call along the office at Greenbrae. We’re often out and about, so give us a phone first to check we’re in, but the kettle is always on if we’re at Greenbrae!
Can remote become real possibility? Many companies such as Shetland Islands Council now have decentralisation policies that allow people to work nearer to home, so this is an ideal time for us to find out whether folk here would be happy and able to take advantage of such policies. We’ve put together a simple survey in an attempt to find out how many folk in Northmavine could work from here for all, or a part, of the working week if such a space was available.
It only takes a few seconds to fill out the survey, so please let us know how you feel about this. We can’t move forward projects without the necessary evidence and it would be a real shame if we missed a community need because we didn’t know about it. ‘It only takes a few seconds to fill out this survey, so please let us know how you feel about this’
Anniesland, North Roe As you may be aware, there are now two new houses for social rent at North Roe. ‘Anniesland’ comprises two, three-bedroomed properties and both are now rented out. The houses were built as part of the ‘Rural Homes for Rent’ (RHfR) scheme. We’re delight ed to be part of such a fantastic scheme that has taken a new approach to providing social housing in rural areas. Reduced grant funding will mean it becomes increasingly impossible for Shetland Islands Council and Hjaltland Housing Association to build houses in places like Northmavine, so we need to look at new ways of being able to provide housing for ourselves. Housing is a key factor to retain folk in the area and encourage new folk to move here. RHfR was a joint project between Drew Cromarty of Lochend and the Scottish Government. The NCDC carried out the work to bring in the funding and we developed and managed the project. We had a number of issues along the way, including where to site the houses. Two initial sites were considered, but these were both impossible for various reasons. It was a really exciting moment to be able to hand the keys over to the first new tenants and Drew Cromarty must be thanked for the huge part he played in making Anniesland happen. NCDC is now the letting agent for Anniesland and this will bring in an important income for us.
‘It was a really exciting moment to be able to hand the keys over to the new tenants’
Business hub for Northmavine When the community bought the shop and house in Hillswick back in 2009, we also purchased a large derelict store across the road from the shop. The building can’t be classed as much of an asset in its’ present state, but many folk in Northmavine can see development potential. The space would make an ideal hub for local business and remote working. We’re planning to have a detailed condition survey carried out on the building to check whether it would be possible to refurbish the space, or whether rebuild would be the only option. It’s a listed building so it won’t be an easy project, whatever the result, but we need to make a start! Ideas for the building so far include a space for remote working upstairs, office space and perhaps a communal space for businesses to share. Downstairs could be a great venue for a couple of incubator workshop units for businesses that need their own space. We’re trying to gather information on whether folk are looking for a space to base a business in so we would ask that potential or current business owners take a few minutes to fill out the business survey.
New NCDC members needed Membership of the NCDC is open to all full-time residents in the area over the age of 18 that share the aim of the NCDC to make Northmavine a better place to live, work in or visit. Although many of you signed up in the early days, we are keen to encourage more of you to join. Being a member of the NCDC doesn’t mean any extra work for you – unless you want it to! And you don’t have to sit through monthly meetings – that’s the job of our directors! But you’d be welcome to if you felt the need. By becoming a member you’ll be kept better informed of the latest NCDC projects, you’ll be able to join any sub-groups we set up to bring forward new ideas, membership would give you a stronger voice within the organisation and you’ll be able to vote at our AGM. Because funding for community projects is becoming scarce, communities will have to provide even more evidence that the projects we want to undertake have real buy-in from the folk who live here. A simple method used by funders to look at whether this is the case or not, is the number of members each organisation has. We know that lots of you community support the projects we have developed to date. Now we’d just like you to formalise that support a peerie bit. There’s still a lot of work to be done here and it would be a shame if we couldn’t get the funding just because we didn’t have enough signed up members. We also want to give folk the opportunity to be more involved with NCDC and the work we do on your behalf. We’ve included a couple of membership forms with this newsletter and we’d be delighted if you decided to join. Please use the stamped addressed envelope to send the form back to us at Greenbrae. Give us a phone if you need more forms.
Amenity building almost open For the past few years we’ve been working with the Northmavine Club at Collafirth Pier to build an amenity building there. We worked steadily to get the planning permission and building warrants in place, ready for the day when we might find funding. We finally struck gold earlier this year. The funding package from LEADER, HIE, Shetland Islands Council, Awards for All and the groups who use the pier area, means that a public building containing toilets, shower and laundry facilities is new almost complete at Collafirth. There are still a couple of issues with the electrics and we’re almost ready to apply for the completion certificate. The amenity building will soon be open and will provide much welcome facilities for folk who use the pier area and visitors to Northmavine.
Shetland College survey Shetland College is considering how they can develop and taylor courses to make sure they provide relevant training courses that are accessible to local rural businesses. Please use the survey to let them how the College could help.
Polytunnels soiree and AGM The community polytunnels in Northmavine have proved a huge success. Not only has the project provided folk with an opportunity to grow fruit and veg in a more hospitable climate, it’s also provided a great chance for folk to get together in the shared growing space. To celebrate this we’re having a nort polytunnels soiree on 21st November, as part of our annual general meeting. This event is open to anyone in Northmavine, so please come along We’re hoping that Sarah MacBurnie from Unst Regeneration Growers Enterprise and Alex Henry from Pure Shetland at Tingwall will come along to give a couple of presentations on how they manage grow successfully in Shetland and give us all a few tips for next year. We’ll have a question and answer session and a chance for folk to yarn over a cup of tea and a fancy or two! There might even be the odd free packet of seeds! The event will begin at 7pm in the Sullom hall with the NCDC annual general meeting, so it will be a good chance for folk to catch up on how we’ve been doing during the last financial year and let us know how we should be developing. We promise to get all the business out of the way in a timeous fashion and you won’t be roped into anything—unless you want to!
New beginnings with nortenergy
Funding for our Community Powerdown project came to an end on 31st March this year. This meant that we no longer had the funds to employ Powerdown Officer, Colin Dickie. But, NCDC directors had planned ahead. They saw a gap in the market for a one-stop-shop offering energy advice, audits and renewable installation solutions and nortenergy was born! nortenergy is a trading subsidiary of the NCDC and, like the Hillswick shop, any surplus funds earned by the company will be gift aided back to the NCDC for the benefit of the Northmavine community. During his time as Powerdown officer, Colin Dickie had amassed a great deal of knowledge and information about energy use, energy efficiency and renewable solutions, so it was logical that he became general manager at nortenergy nortenergy is based at the NCDC office, so for more information on the services nortenergy can provide, please contact Colin or Cynthia at Greenbrae or have a look at the website; www.nortnergy.co.uk
www.northmavine.com Speaking of websites, the Northmavine website (www.northmavine.com) is having a bit of a revamp. The site has been up and running for over five years now and is crammed with lots of information about the area and what goes on. The world of the internet has moved on in the past five years and although the information on the site is terrific, we wanted to improve the social qualities of the website and be able to add news and stories more immediately. Soon we’ll be able to manage the content from the NCDC office and we’re also planning to put together a facebook page and twitter updates. We hope a facebook page will enable us to be even more interactive with folk and encourage folk in Northmavine to let us know how they feel about all things nort of Mavis Grind. We’ll keep you posted on progress. The website has had a forum since it first began and although we’ve had lots of fantastic discussions and pictures via the forum, time moves on and we might need to consider new ways of encouraging folk to speak to us. We’d be keen to hear how you feel about the forum – should it stay, or do we need to look at new ways of communication?
‘encourage tolk in Northmavine to let us know how they feel about all things nort of Mavis Grind’
Popular Polycrubs The Northmavine community polytunnel project, undertaken as part of the Powerdown project, was very successful. 12 community polytunnels have been built throughout the parish with help from the Climate Challenge Fund. The structures are being shared and used by almost 50 people who are growing a huge variety of fruit and vegetables. We did hope to build another series of community polytunnels, but unfortunately we were unable to access the funding. The structures are strong enough to withstand our Shetland winters, so they can be used all year round – as long as there’s enough light. The project created a lot of interest from people who wanted to build the sturdy tunnels in their own gardens and crofts. nortenergy saw a business opportunity and the patent pending design was rebranded as a ‘Polycrub’. ‘Polycrub’ kits are now part of nortenergy’s core business and are being sold in healthy numbers. Due to the permanency of the polycrub, I’m told they are eligible for CCAGS funding. Contact Colin or Cynthia for more information.
Twa Roes Hydro One possible means of generating income could be through generating electricity. Over the past few months we have been looking at a possible hydro project at the Burn of Twa Roes, near the Collafirth Brig. Results of the feasibility study indicate that the 25kW project has the potential to generate around £20,000 per annum from Feed in Tariff Scheme (FiTS) payments available at the moment. Any project receiving the FiTS payment cannot access public grant funding for the capital cost of the project, so loan funding or community investment would be the only means of paying for the installation costs. I am currently looking at whether we could access loan finance and whether the project would be financially viable if we could. Grid capacity is also an issue, but in the first instance we need to know whether we can afford to do the project, and if anyone would lend us the money. I’d ask anyone with an interest in the hydro project to get in touch with me at the office. 6
Funding at Greenbrae Since 2004 the NCDC has received regular, and most welcome, funding support for our core costs from Shetland Islands Council and Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE). For the past two years this has been a tapering funding percentage year on year. This financial year we’ll receive 21% from SIC and 36% from HIE, so we need to generate income to plug the remaining 43% funding gap of around £22,000. We look set to hit this target. This means we’ll able to cover the cost of employing staff and pay for all the office costs. Income generation and ultimately, financial independence, is a double-edged sword. On the plus side, it means that the NCDC will have a more secure future and greater autonomy. On the down-side it can mean that we have less time for some of the things we need to do in the community – like sending newsletters! Currently we have a number of ways of making money for the NCDC. We provide clerk services to the Northmaven Community Council and we compile the North Mainland Notes. Funds are also brought in by leasing the shop building to Hillswick Shop Ltd, renting out the house at Hillswick (next to the shop), providing letting agent services for Anniesland, project management/development work, training and community development work through the Development Trust Association Scotland. It looks as though our HIE funding will cease at the end of this financial year, or at very best, continue on a much reduced rate. This means that in future years we will need to earn an even greater amount of money to cover our costs, so we’re always looking at new ways of generating finance. Any surplus money we make after our core costs have been met will be used for the benefit of the Northmavine community. With each new opportunity we have to look at how much staff -time any prospect will take and whether we have the time. Ideally we would like to employ more staff but we can’t do that unless the income generating project means there is enough spare cash for us to be able to afford take on a new employee. Unfortunately these prospects have been few and far between so far! It’s not all doom and gloom. We’re hopeful that both our trading subsidiaries, nortenergy and Hillswick Shop Ltd, might have some surplus profits in the future that can be gifted back to the NCDC. We’re also looking at small-scale renewables projects like the hydro project and waste ideas that might provide a less labour intensive means of earning money when the projects are up and running. We could also look at having more volunteers who might be willing to do small jobs and bits and pieces on a voluntary basis. We’re also considering other fundraising ideas and alternative grant funding sources to help meet our costs. NCDC is really beginning to get into its’ stride now. We’ve completed some real regeneration projects lately that will help make Northmavine a better place to live, work or visit. We’re determined to be here for the long haul to help local folk make Northmavine a thriving, vibrant place for all, so we’ll do all we can to be able to employ the staff we desperately need to make these new ideas and projects happen. We’d be delighted to hear of any fund raising ideas or hear your advice on income generation, so please get in touch with any suggestions.
‘NCDC is YOUR company. Please get in touch with any of your ideas on how ‘We fight da slokkin o da light’
Build wir own picnic benches Over the past few years we have had a number of visitors and local folk who’ve told us they would like to see picnic benches dotted throughout Northmavine, so that folk could have a bite to eat in comfort and enjoy the stunning views. This got us thinking about how we could make this happen. Recent surveys in Northmavine have shown that wir teenagers are the least catered for group of folk here, so we came up with an idea to bring teenagers together, learn new skills and learn a bit about Northmavine in the process. The group would build the benches with peer support. We have talented young joiners here in Northmavine and young people who would be willing to run the project with assistance from the NCDC. The group would also look at locations in Northmavine where the benches could be sited , so they would learn about the area In the process. So…..we have the skills and assistance, now all we need is the money for the materials! We eventually found a fund that fitted our project aims and we’re now waiting to hear whether our application is successful or not. If we have no luck with this fund, we’ll try something else. We hope that the benches project could be a spring board for young folk to come up with new ideas for things they’d like to do in Northmavine. We’ll keep you posted about how we’re getting on with the funding application and we hope to hear the result at the end of this month. We’d be really blyde to hear from any teenagers in Northmavine who would like to get involved with the project, so please phone, e-mail or drop along the office.
Belated congratulations North Roe It’s f antastic news that that pupils at North Roe Pr imar y School will be going back to their own school af ter the October holidays and the threat of closure was staved off once more. W ith £26 million of cuts coming our way in Shetland, ther e is litt le doubt that school closur es will once again be back on the agenda at some point. W e need to do all the can to make sure the school is strong enough to avoid the next closur e list and that means we need more pupils. North Roe has bags of potential and I ’d be delighted to help anyone who has a development idea f or the area, so please get in touch.
Services and Facilities at Greenbrae If you need any of the following services or facilities, give us a phone to check we’re in and pop along Greenbrae. Public Internet Access Photocopying Printing Binding Laminating We also have a video camera and display boards. All we ask for in return is a peerie donation. 8