The Kirknewton Community Development Trust Annual General Meeting took place at 7pm on Thursday 6th December in the Green Room.
The meeting agreed the accounts, the auditors for next year, the election of Directors (Martin Hall and Kenny Birch put themselves forward again) and people attending took the opportunity to ask questions direct to the Chair and Board Members on their report.
The report for the year September 2017 to August 2018 is below
It has been a challenging year for the sustainability of the Trust. The refusal by West Lothian Council to grant consent to the Fauch Hill Windfarm and the subsequent rejection of the appeal by the Inquiry Reporter means that we don’t have any substantial continuation of funding now that Big Lottery Scotland funds have come to an end. KCDT lost a minimum of £80,000 in annual revenue from this windfarm. Taken over the lifetime of the project we lost over £2 MILLION and the potential to be a co-owner of a renewable resource in our backyard.
In particular it means we may lose staff early in 2019 who support the wholly voluntary Board of the Trust to ensure that we make things happen and achieve the outcomes of the Community Development Plan.
The next community consultation is due to take place in late 2019/early 2020 and once again we will not have project funds unless we are successful in our fundraising and grant applications. This is becoming increasingly challenging at the moment. Local authority cuts have forced groups previously funded by local councils to chase the same limited pots of funds as ourselves.
However we continue to move things forward – here is a short summary of what’s being going on.
NEW BOARD MEMBERS
After several years of service to the Community Council and the KCDT Board, Pat Hastings had to resign as she was moving away from the village. We wish Pat all our best wishes for the future. She was replaced by Caroline Hamilton after a recruitment process, largely due to the skill set we were looking for. Congratulations to Caroline.
NEW YOUTH AND VOLUNTEER OFFICER
This year we also became a significant employer in the Village. Laura Bilton left as our Youth and Volunteer Co-ordinator but we were fortunate enough to replace her with Ailsa Meldrum who has been doing a great job developing the role.
COMMUNITY GARDENER AND FUNDRAISING OFFICER
Thanks to the Scottish Government and DTAS Strengthening Communities Fund we were also able to employ Greg Young as our Community Gardener and Debbie Douglas as our Community Fundraiser. These roles continue until March 2019 however, it is expected that funding will be continued for another 12 months although this is not guaranteed. We touch on Greg’s work in the year 2017-2018 below but Debbie has been working away on several applications and initiatives, including the Community Lottery, which we hope to report on at next years AGM.
FINANCE OFFICER CONTINUES
The Board of the Trust has agreed to fund Finance Officer, Stephanie Paterson, to support the Trust, Gala, Village Hall Committee and support the work of our volunteers. We also hope to support cleaners for the Village Hall and Green Room through rental income generated by the two venues.
SUCCESSFUL EVENTS, GREEN ROOM BREAK IN, YOUTH CLUB
In early November 2017 we ran the Kirknewton Fireworks and in late November a very successful Christmas Fair at the Stables. These events raised £4000 for community funds. However this took a considerable amount of staff time to organise so with no guarantees of people being in post and the access issue created by work scheduled on the park pavilion we decided to ‘rest’ the event this year.
It may have been possible to run this event but the break-in at the Green Room meant that staff were facing a difficult task alongside the fundraising and grant applications necessary to help sustain the Trust activities after the Fauch Hill project was rejected.
We continue to run the weekly Youth Club and a big thanks to the Volunteers who give their time every week to ensure we support P7 and S1 children and give them somewhere to go and engage with each other. Thanks to the people who also give up their time and share their skills with the children.
COMMUNITY GARDENER and CHARLES JENCKS PROJECT
Greg, our new Community Gardener, has built a base of repeat customers requiring work in their gardens. He encourages people to recycle their garden waste and gives advice on how to do that (if they don’t do it already).
Gregg has also facilitated hundreds of volunteer hours on the Charles Jencks project at the East End of the village. The Jencks artwork is expected to be completed by spring/summer of 2019 and, as part of the arts grant funding , there is money for a small arts festival and official opening of the work. Charles Jencks has international standing and it is hoped this unique work will encourage visitors to Kirknewton, supporting local
business, increasing tourism and creating employment.
We were consulted by West Lothian Council on the new Pavilion design and we suggested appropriate technology that would deliver a low energy and low maintenance building akin to the Green Room.
Unfortunately much of our advice has apparently been ignored. However we were able to get improvements to the park, improved drainage on the pitch and a commitment to all weather surfaces at the primary school from Council budgets.
It is disappointing to me that a local authority cannot lead in sustainable procurement using public funds and instead chooses to ignore carefully considered and economically viable proposals from the community they claim to have consulted.
This is our proposal to build Seven Houses suitable for Varying Needs at the former Camps Junction site.
Staffing issues and resource implications meant our chosen development partner, Almond Housing, were unable to continue the development of this project adding substantially to the delay into its delivery.
We are currently working with a local architect, Euan Robertson. We have just commissioned a QS and are we working with a consultant from Rural Housing Scotland to complete our Rural Housing Grant for early next year (an application for funding in the region of £500,000).
Horizon Housing, who helped us to elaborate an elegant interior layout design suitable for Varying Needs, will manage the properties and the tenant allocations. The houses will be warm and will cost little to heat and light.
The windfarm at Camilty now owned by EDF has had its application for six larger turbines approved. EDF have approached us through the Forestry Commission to discuss community benefit and community investment in this project. We expect this will be our last opportunity to invest in a local renewable energy project.
Thanks to you all for engaging with this Trust and the local community during the last twelve months. Without your ongoing support and guidance we would not be as strong and as well regarded as we apparently are!