- Duck Pond and Picnic Area
- Inverasdale Slipway
- Community Computer and Office
- Poolewe and Aultbea Public Toilets
- Inverasdale Primary School
- Archaeological Events
- Inverasdale Affordable Housing
Duck Pond and Picnic Area
One of our first projects was to clean up and fence a pond in Inverasdale and create a path and seating area beside it. This certainly improved a previously unsightly area and provided an attractive seating area for picnics. Unfortunately the pond quickly became overgrown with rushes and now has problems with flooding. However, we plan to improve the area again but this time learn from our mistakes by ensuring a maintenance plan is put in place early on. In addition to improving the picnic area and pond we also intend to create a play area for the children in an unsightly hollow adjacent to the picnic area. To find out more about this project please go to our current projects page.
The original, 150 year old, stone jetty at Inverasdale had being showing signs of its age for some time, before local people decided to do something about it. A small track from the road was the only means of accessing the jetty and parking facilities were non-existent. Local people and visitors were very frustrated at being surrounded by such a beautiful Loch but unable to access it easily.
After much discussion and with great enthusiasm LEAF/GALE set about compiling a plan for building a new slipway in deeper waters, that would be wide enough to carry a car and trailer and enable the launch of small craft. A car park and access road were also desirable and it was felt that the original jetty should also be incorporated into the plans due to its historic interest.
A major issue during the project was the problem of who would take responsibility for owning the new improved facility. The old jetty was owned and therefore maintained by Highland Council and the local community felt they would like the Highland Council to take responsibility for the new facility. This added additional costs to the project, as the Highland Council required a much higher standard of road than local people felt they needed. After much discussion and debate it was agreed that these additional costs would be worth it and funding applications were submitted to a wide range of grant making bodies.
A total of £177,425 was raised for the project from the National Lottery Charities Board (£137,425), the PESCA Programme(£20,000), Highland Council (£10,000) and Ross and Cromarty Enterprise (£10,000).
The whole process from start to finish was by no means smooth and without its hitches, taking well over three years to complete. However, we are delighted to see a lovely new facility now in place and being well used by local businesses and recreational boats, visitors to the area and the Ministry of Defence.
Community Computer and Office
The SCVO com.com/holyrood project awarded LEAF/GALE an Internet ready computer for public use, in November 1999. This has been a useful addition to our office, which now offers the public photocopy, fax, printing, word-processing, desktop publishing and Internet facilities. The office is used on a regular basis by a number of locals and the Internet is very popular among visitors to the area with a number of them even using it to check their share prices whilst on holiday! If you`re on holiday in the area and need an office facility or what to check your e-mails why not call in and see Janet at the GALE office.
The Highland Council public toilets in Poolewe and Aultbea are well used all year round by tourists and locals. Unfortunately, due to lack of funds, the Highland Council is no longer able to afford their adequate maintenance and was faced with the possibility of having to close them. For the past three years LEAF/GALE has taken responsibility for the maintenance of the toilets and the Council has told us that without our assistance the toilets in both villages would certainly be closed – at least over the winter months. We welcome this opportunity to keep such an essential facility in our villages and are also pleased to be supporting a part-time cleaning job in our area when employment is so scarce. GALE intends to continue this service to the community for as long as funding allows. Next time you use the toilets in Poolewe or Aultbea please remember the work of GALE.
Much of our time and energies during the later part of 1997 and early 1998 were devoted to the campaign to save Inverasdale Primary School, which the Highland Council had been threatening to close. At the time, the village school was the only communal facility at Inverasdale and it was felt that it played an essential part in keeping the community alive. It is difficult to attract young, economically active families, who are essential for the areas regeneration, to a village where there is no school.
In addition to providing children with an education, the school is a vital part of the social fabric of our community and is used for a wide range of purposes by numerous local organisations.
The closure of our primary school would turn the area into a place where the retired outnumber the families, where holiday homes outnumber permanent dwellings and where children are a rarity.
The support of our campaign, locally, nationally and internationally, was overwhelming and we continue to hear from other villages in similar situations. Inverasdale is just one of many rural primary schools that have been targeted throughout Scotland, and the outcry has been so loud, long and sustained that the Scottish Executive has now sent strong messages to local authorities to look at educational and social reasons for keeping small schools open, rather than closing them for short-lived, and often illusory savings.
As a result, we noticed a change in the tone of many Highland Councillors who were unhappy about the proposals. The first test of how strongly their feelings were came on 23 April 1998 when the Education Committee met to vote on which schools should close and which should remain open. The good news for us was that they voted to keep Inverasdale School open.
The school roll continues to fluctuate as new families move into the area and older children move on to secondary school in Gairloch. Although the school has been saved from closure once there is always a feeling locally that it may well be threatened again if the roll falls. We are all still very keen to see new families move into the area and help support our school.
LEAF/GALE has always endeavoured to promote training and improve people`s employability. Over the last couple of years a range of courses has been hosted by LEAF/GALE with a more recent emphasis on training for the tourism industry. Recent courses have included Internet training seminars for local crofters, REHIS Elementary Food Hygiene for those involved in catering, Welcome Host and a beginner`s course on the use of Microsoft Word.
Two days of events were held in the Laide area by LEAF/GALE and Aultbea Community Council, as part of the Highland Council Archaeology Week in October 2001. A number of local people and tourists attended the events, visiting sites of historic interest that are not usually widely publicised. Local historian Willie MacRobbie provided the group with a wealth of information and a very enjoyable couple of days. For information on the sites visited please see our archaeology page and click here to buy a copy of Willie MacRobbie`s book on the township of Achgarve.
The Longman landfill site in Inverness takes most of the waste generated in our area but is due to close in 2003. Urgent action is therefore needed to reduce the amount of waste we send to landfill and we believe this is the responsibility of every individual living in or visiting our area. The cost of emptying bins and disposing of waste is much higher in remote rural areas than in urban areas due to the vast distances the waste needs to travel. This is also a major problem when it comes to recycling. For example, by the time a lorry has collected glass from bottle banks in our area and delivered them to where they will be recycled, it costs more in time and petrol than the glass is actually worth. In addition to this, it is negotiable whether this effort of recycling is more environmentally friendly than other methods of disposal due to the vast transportation distances concerned.
In order to help in a small way with this major problem LEAF/GALE has been working with Wester Loch Ewe Community Council and WHAM (Waste: Highland Action on Minimisation) to encourage local composting. So far we have distributed 45 compost bins locally and hope to divert at least 1,500kg of compostable waste from landfill each year as a result.
In addition to benefiting the environment and raising awareness of landfill problems the project enables local people to make their own compost for use in their gardens instead of having to purchase it.
The lack of affordable housing in the Inverasdale area was highlighted at the time when Inverasdale Primary School was being threatened with closure. The community recognised that many young families were either moving out of the area or being prevented from moving into Inverasdale due to the lack of housing options available. Most reasonably sized houses that come up for sale are quickly bought as retirement/holiday homes and this has helped to increase house prices in the area beyond the budgets of local families and young couples. It was therefore felt that by creating more affordable housing in the area, it would lead to more families living within the catchment area of the primary school and contribute to securing the schools future.
In order to try and halt this detrimental trend, LEAF/GALE undertook to carry out a housing needs survey in order to quantify the number of people in the area living in poor housing conditions and provide evidence that the housing need in Inverasdale was not just a local notion, but a proven fact. Clear evidence of housing need was identified by the survey and it was agreed that action must be taken.
The next stage of the project was to identify a suitable site to build the houses on and to agree how the project would be managed and funded. The identification of a building site proved far more time consuming and difficult than anticipated and for some time the project was in danger of going no further. Eventually a site was identified at Firemore, Inverasdale and although not the most ideal site in the area it was the only one available.
The Albyn Housing Society agreed to take responsibility for building and managing the houses on behalf of the community. Taking into account the size of the site available it was agreed that four family homes should be built and on completion a Local Lettings Policy should be devised. Planning permission has recently been granted for these houses and work should begin on them in December 2001. Although this project has taken such a long time (well over three years to date) to get this far, we are all sure it will be worth every bit of the effort once the houses are complete.