I have just received news that two Lochaber based community groups are through to the next round of an exciting new community initiative launched by the Highland Council. The £1 million Community Challenge Fund was set up to help community projects that seek new ways of delivering services at a local level.
The Lochaber Sports Association and Kinlochleven Community Trust are two, of only six, groups across the Highlands who succeeded in passing the first stage. They now have a month to prepare a full business case for their proposals.
In Kinlochleven, the community trust already maintains many public spaces within the village, including the village square and Island Park sports pitch. Their plan is to take over the grounds maintenance within the village, currently undertaken by council contractors. This would also include grass cutting at Kinlochmore cemetery. Since the council outsourced all their grass-cutting operations across the Highlands, to private contractors, the service has been dogged by complaints from residents. This scheme would improve the quality of maintenance, increase the number of cuts and compliment the routine work the Trust already undertakes. If successful, it is hoped that it would also lead to additional employment opportunities in the village. Many people are confused who is responsible for which bit of public land, so it makes sense that it is all maintained by one group.
The Sports Association has expressed an interest in taking over responsibility for maintaining sports pitches, at various venues around the area. Pitch maintenance has proved a controversial subject in recent months, as the Highland Council received public criticism for the poor state of many of our sports pitches. If sports clubs took on that role, backed up by suitable funding from the council, I believe we would get a better service than currently provided.
Good luck to both groups as they finalise their final plans for consideration.