Lochalsh committee approves £100k of community funding

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Residential and rural paths and other community-led projects are to be boosted by Highland Council cash.

The council’s Wester Ross, Strathpeffer and Lochalsh Area Committee has approved how £100,000 from the Place Based Investment Fund will be allocated to benefit community initiatives across the ward.

As part of the Health and Prosperity Strategy agreed by the Highland Council in March 2021, £100,000 was allocated to each of the 21 Highland wards for the 2021/22 financial year.

It is hoped the money will help groups address the four harms of Covid-19 which have been identified as direct health harms; health impacts not directly related to Covid-19; societal impacts and economic impacts.

At the meeting last week, councillors agreed the following proposals for investment:

  • £40,000 to improve residential and rural paths with the scope for projects to be carried out internally or through community-led projects.
  • £60,000 to be invested in community-led projects being delivered by local constituted groups.

Projects which bring an element of match-funding will be prioritised. There will be two funding rounds – the end of September and the end of December – and all projects will need to be completed by December 2022.

Committee chairman Councillor Ian Cockburn said: ‘Covid-19 has brought our economic and demographic challenges into even sharper focus. Now we need to focus on recovery, building resilience in our businesses and communities so they can be sustainable and grow, retaining and creating employment and attracting new population and investment.

‘The community spirit throughout our ward has been incredible during the Covid-19 pandemic and I strongly believe those living at the heart of our community are best placed to gauge the most suitable projects to support recovery. I am sure some very worthwhile projects will come forward from the community groups who have been supporting people and working so hard.

‘As for the money set aside for improving our paths, we look forward to further discussions with our access officer and the local groups who are already delivering path improvements.

‘At a time when we are encouraging people to become more active and walking is proven to have benefits on our physical and mental health, the more we can do to improve access to footpaths for locals and visitors the better.’

The first funding round will open at the end of next month and applications will be made via the established process for ward discretionary grants. Any eligible grant requests for £10,000 or over will be presented to a future Wester Ross, Strathpeffer and Lochalsh Area Committee for approval.