Boost for Island groups will benefit jobs and heritage

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Four awards have been made to community groups across the Outer Hebrides following Council Committee meetings held recently.

Councillor Donald Crichton, Chairman of the Comhairle’s Sustainable Development Committee said: “Four excellent community projects will be delivered through support from the Comhairle’s Community Capital Grant Fund (CCGF).

“In Castlebay, Ness, Shawbost and Balallan jobs will be safeguarded during the construction period and more will be created post completion.”

Phase 2 of the Castlebay Harbour Initiative by Coimhearsnachd Bharraidh agus Bhatarsaidh Ltd will see key permanent infrastructure of a main pontoon leg and slipway to service demand for visiting yacht berths.

By creating 18 additional spaces and providing a permanent infrastructure and facility it will support the development of marine tourism and recreation on the island.

The project’s links with the local water-sports club presents the opportunity to address local health inequalities and social isolation as a result of improved and safer access and facilities translating into increased levels of participation and range of activities.

The Comhairle awarded £61,950 to the project from the CCGF.

The Isle of Lewis Heritage Programme (IOLHP) is a suite of three interlinked regeneration projects based on heritage and culture that seek to reinvigorate and empower fragile communities in Lewis.

The component projects within the programme are driven by Comunn Eachdraidh Nis (CEN), Comann Eachdraidh an Taobh Siar (CEaTS) and Kinloch Historical Society (KHS).

The total costs of the projects are estimated at £2.5m.

The CEN proposal seeks to build on the visitor demand already created by developing the presently derelict former schoolhouse and canteen - and to reconfigure and expand the school property to allow the expansion of its core activities.

It will also provide additional exhibition space to showcase the area’s heritage and create climate-controlled storage to ensure the Comunn Eachdraidh’s collection is preserved.

A bespoke workshop will deal with conservation of items and office space will be created to house additional staff. Visitor facilities will also be improved and extended to meet projected demand.

Urras Dualchas Siabost is working closely with CEaTS, which has collected many of the artefacts that are to be displayed within what was an old church building, recently acquired by the Trust.

They are also actively working with private interests with a view to having both static and working displays of Harris Tweed weaving within the new centre. The artefacts originally displayed in the museum are unique examples of the area’s history of crofting and seafaring and provides a valuable link with the past.

Each theme will have its own dedicated area within the original building.

KHS is seeking to redevelop the old school in Balallan as a community and heritage hub in line with the community’s identified needs.

The project is located on the main inter-island spinal route and will provide exhibition space to facilitate the permanent display of the society’s extensive collections.

It seeks to provide innovative storage that will allow public access, especially to meet requirements of local schools and University students.

The school will be reconfigured to provide a new reception area, museum and archive rooms, exhibition space, offices, café area and enhancement of washroom facilities.

An award of £300,000 was made to the Heritage Programme in Lewis and Regeneration Team Officers are providing support to the individual community groups with their developments and are working towards having contracts for construction in place within the required timeframes.