SRG Convener's report 2009 .doc

Selkirk Regeneration  Group

Registered Charity No. SCO 37397

Dr Lindsay Neil, Convener, 01750 20841; drlneil@btinternet.com

 The SRG was constituted in early 2006 and consists of voluntary representatives from different existing associations in the Burgh who had never before had an opportunity to act together for the common good with a regenerative aim.

The SRG was inaugurated in late 2005 at the instigation of Scottish Borders Council (SBC) and invited to form a partnership with them to benefit from the EU 2000 to 2006 ‘Objective 2’ funding programme. Projects had been undertaken under the scheme in Hawick, Eyemouth and Innerleithen. The refurbishment of Ettrick Riverside in Selkirk was undertaken by SBC in co-operation with Scottish Enterprise. Selkirk’s share of this programme was to be the services of a part-time regeneration officer until December 2006.

It was quickly found that there were no funds left which we could call upon under the EU programme budget but the concept of an all-encompassing regeneration body with input from the Community Council (CC), trade, education, the churches and many other aspects of town life had much merit. This continues to be the case and the SRG meets regularly, has dedicated support from its members and is open to all organisation.

So far the SRG has succeeded in:

Getting the Selkirk Silver Arrow returned and arranging display in Selkirk

Getting signs up over the town’s historic closes

Acquiring the property of No1 Tower St for community purposes

Taking forward a project to exploit wind energy

Formulating a programme to exploit the Auld Kirkyard and its history

Agreeing a programme to revitalize the town centre to make it more user-friendly

Helping to set up a longbow archery club, the Ettrick Forest Archers

With the CC and the Plattling Twinning Group, helping to run a very successful town twinning festival in 2008, the ‘Stadtfest’

In conjunction with the CC, evolving a blueprint concept for Selkirk’s regeneration long term

Many of these projects are still ongoing and most cannot proceed without funding; we have been fortunate up until now in getting funding support from the Common Good Fund (display case for the arrow), the Community Council (doing up

1 Tower St); the SBC ‘Special Award’ scheme (Close signs); the Energy Savings Trust (EST), the ‘Scottish Community and Household Renewable Initiative’ (SCHRI) for wind power studies and we continue to receive support and co-operation from SBC and its councillors. We have no permanent staff and all SRG members are volunteers

The aim of the SRG includes pursuing the ideal of a dependable source of revenue with which to improve the town’s facilities, quality of life and for investing in the town’s future viability. Without that, any regeneration objectives are going to be difficult to achieve.

In the immediate term, we hope to encourage the greater use of renewable energy and look at schemes to reduce carbon emissions.

Longer term, we hope to evolve an overall ‘road map’ of needful developments in regenerating the town and agreed by all interested parties. This plan, however, will only be achievable as and when funding becomes available but will act as a blueprint and as a Selkirk ‘Local Plan’.

Specifically, we would like to see the buses out of the Market Place but accommodated nearby, thus freeing up the Market Place as a more trade-friendly, tourist-friendly and pedestrian-friendly town centre asset.

Importantly, we want to see the Selkirk bypass built to free up potential housing land in Selkirk and make the town centre safer and more congenial for its inhabitants. This is a crucial development for the future viability of the town, since its first inception in the 1930s, but unfortunately it has recently been dropped from the present government’s road improvement programme. Simply a survey defining the bypass route would be an immensely helpful initial step for Selkirk in the short term.

The 2005 SBC-commissioned Biggar Economics report, which widely surveyed local opinions and suggested ways forward, has been a useful guide to the SRG. Many of its recommendations are now SRG aims.

The SRG has recruited and harnessed highly qualified expertise in various areas and is in the process of transforming into a limited-liability company with charitable status in order to carry its projects forward more effectively. It is joining the Development Trust Association (DTA Scotland), a government funded organization linking 115 regeneration trusts in Scotland which will allow pooling of knowledge and experience with other organizations sharing identical aims.

For as long as it has a useful role to play in Selkirk’s affairs, the SRG will continue to strive towards its goals. It is dependant on input from all town inhabitants and is the most useful and impartial body in Selkirk trying to take forward regeneration while representing all the various interests of its constituent organizations.

Without continuing local support, the SRG would be doomed and Selkirk will continue to be put on the back burner for local community-beneficial developments.

It is up to us - all of us, who have Selkirk’s interests at heart, to help towards the SRG goals.

Cllr. Lindsay Neil


 

 

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