Com­mu­nity mem­bers ea­ger to demon­strate peo­ple power

The Oban Times - - News - MON­ICA GIB­SON mgib­son@oban­

PLANS for a new as­so­ci­a­tion with the am­bi­tion of en­hanc­ing so­cial, eco­nomic and aes­thetic as­pects of vil­lage life are be­gin­ning to take shape.

The pur­pose of the Nether Lochaber Com­mu­nity As­so­ci­a­tion would be to take on ‘more tan­gi­ble ac­tive projects’ within the com­mu­nity - for ex­am­ple, the com­mu­nity gar­den scheme, his­tor­i­cal projects and to im­prove boards along the multi-use park.

Iain Jen­ner is one of the brains be­hind the move­ment and said the aim is also to help Bal­lachul­ish be­come bet­ter con­nected to it­self.

He added: ‘ Be­fore the A82 was built along­side us, Bal­lachul­ish was known for its agri­cul­ture and croft­ing. It was a hol­i­day re­sort which boasted idyl­lic strip fields. In the 1900s, the area was boom­ing and had a real sense of pride. We want to get back to that.’

The idea for the as­so­ci­a­tion was floated at the mem­ory week­end held in Lochaber Vil­lage Hall (see page six for re­port). Build­ing on the pos­i­tive re­ac­tion, a meet­ing was held last Thurs­day night (Jan­uary 19) to dis­cuss a way for­ward.

Mr Jen­ner said: ‘Vol­un­tary Ac­tion Lochaber came along and gave us some ad­vice on el­i­gi­bil­ity for achiev­ing char­i­ta­ble sta­tus. The le­gal­i­ties and struc­ture of a SCIO [Scottish Char­ity In­cor­po­rated Or­gan­i­sa­tion] and re­quire­ments for run­ning such a new group, in terms of meet­ings, mem­ber­ship, and com­mit­tee posts were all dis­cussed.

‘There are now seven peo­ple who are will­ing to stand as board mem­bers for the new as­so­ci­a­tion and a fur­ther 30 to 40 who showed their sup­port.’ Mr Jen­ner told The Oban

Times that Nether Lochaber Com­mu­nity Coun­cil (NLCC) came up with the sug­ges­tion of the new as­so­ci­a­tion and if suc­cess­ful, the two would still be in­ter­twined.

He added: ‘In di­rect re­la­tion to this, NLCC is hop­ing that agree­ments with the Forestry Com­mis­sion re­gard­ing the trans­fer of old build­ings at Inchree to the com­mu­nity as as­sets, and with Lochaber Hous­ing As­so­ci­a­tion, to re­lease their land hold­ings at Inchree for com­mu­nity agri­cul­tural and hor­ti­cul­tural use, will be com­ing to fruition at the end of this month.

‘If all goes ac­cord­ing to plan, there will be a huge range of po­ten­tial ac­tiv­i­ties for com­mu­nity as­so­ci­a­tion mem­bers to in­volve them­selves in, as of next spring, so we want peo­ple to keep spread­ing the word and en­cour­age oth­ers to sign up.’

Mr Jen­ner ex­plained now the group has the rel­e­vant forms, once sub­mit­ted the ap­pli­ca­tion process can take around six to eight weeks. He added: ‘In the mean­time, we hope the com­mu­nity coun­cil might be able to help us with a start-up fund.

‘ We can show will­ing by per­haps paint­ing the com­mu­nity coun­cil benches, or tidy­ing up some of the planters.

‘It would be nice to strike while the iron is hot – even by achiev­ing some lit­tle jobs, it will boost morale and show that we are keen to get on.’

For more in­for­ma­tion and to show your sup­port, find Nether Lochaber Com­mu­nity Coun­cil on Face­book.

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