Community eager to demonstrate people power

Ballachulish

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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.