Newsletter 25 June 2018

Welcome to the first newsletter of the Westruther Community Project.

After our very successful community meeting last month, we thought it was important to keep you up to date with progress of the project and to answer a few questions that have been raised over the past few weeks. We welcome all comments and suggestions so if you would like any more information or would like to be involved please get in touch with us as your input would be gratefully appreciated.

How did this all come about?

The idea of a community buy-out of the Old Thistle Inn initially grew out of discussions which took place some time ago about how The Coach House, which adjoins the pub, could be put to use for the benefit of the local community. It soon became clear that although people were enthusiastic about the development of the Coach House, they were concerned about the viability of any community project unless the sustainability of the pub was also taken into consideration. As the pub has been on the market for several years the idea of a community buy-out was proposed.  After discussions with Angela the current landlord who gave the idea her blessing, it was decided that the possibilities were worth investigating and a committee was formed.

Where are we at just now?

We are still very much at the early stages, looking into exactly what could be possible. After gaining overwhelming support at the recent community meeting, the steering group is in the process of applying for funding to carry out a full feasibility study to look into the viability of the project. This study will focus on the idea of taking the pub and coach house jointly into community ownership, securing the pub for the future and also investigate what could be done to add value to the business, ways in which people could be drawn to the village to make the pub more sustainable and what benefits this could potentially bring for the local economy as a result.

Many suggestions have been put forward as to what could be incorporated into the pub that would benefit the wider community including included incorporating a village shop, café, bakery, micro-brewery, gin distillery, ice-cream parlour, meeting space, B&B, and bike hub – the possibilities are endless!

What will this all cost?

The early stages of this project will be fully funded by grant money. If it is felt that a community buy-out is a viable option, then we can also access up to 95% of the purchase price via grants and further grant funding to help towards renovation costs. These grants will NOT have to be repaid. Further on in the process there will be an opportunity for individuals to invest in the project by way of community shares and opportunities to help with fundraising to get the project off to a flying start.  It is anticipated that the pub and coach house will be a commercially sustainable business, not reliant upon volunteers and, although the goodwill and support of the village will be essential, it is hoped that that the business will be self-funding after the initial set up phase.

Who is involved?

The current steering group is made up of a number of Westruther residents who have expressed an interest in preserving the pub and supporting the wider community. Some are long standing residents while others are newer to the village. The group is very keen to have input from all interested residents and pub-goers and would welcome your suggestions as to how you would like to see this project progress. Whilst the steering group is taking things forward at present, we feel that it is vital that the wider community is involved and consulted throughout the process. It is important that the voices of ALL members of the community are heard so please do not hesitate to contact us with any questions or concerns that you may have about the project and how it may impact upon your lives within the village. This is a project to benefit the whole of our community.

We look forward to bringing you news of developments over the coming months and will do so by way of newsletters and community meetings which will be held at key points during the process.

If you have not received this newsletter by email but would like to do so in future then please get in touch with your contact details so that we can make sure you are kept up to date. You can contact us at westruthercommunityproject@gmail.com.

Many thanks in anticipation of your support

The Westruther Community Project Steering Group

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