December 2022 Sunart Community Consultation
Background Information for the Community Census and Questionnaire – Sunart at 2022
(organised by Sunart Community Council and Sunart Community Company)
Scan the QR code to complete our survey online!
The Sunart Community Company (originally known as Strontian Community Company) was formed in 2005 and set up to allow the local community to acquire the various fishing and recreation areas being sold off by the government. In recent years however, working closely with the Sunart Community Council, the charity has flourished as one of the many hundreds of community ‘development trusts’ that have been established around the UK to help communities take more control over their affairs and make long term plans for their future, and their childrens’ future.
Following a joint workshop with the Community Company Board and Community Council and several other committees in 2016, a Vision for Sunart was developed, taking into consideration over two years of community consultations. Our vision is “a resilient community created by a socially and economically inclusive environment which adapts to change in a sustainable and dynamic way”. This was summarised as: Keeping Sunart a great place to live, work and visit!
This 2022 consultation builds on previous surveys, all of which have helped us to define the issues facing the community and resulted in a number of community projects. For example residents’ views helped local groups argue the case for the new Primary School Building and to keep Dail Mhor House open, establish the framework for the Sunart Community Benefit Fund, secure the jetty for community use, purchase and establish Oakwood Tourism & Crafts, establish the Christmas Market and develop new footpaths for the area to name but a few.
Why should you and everyone in your household complete the 2022 questionnaire?
Our wonderful community is facing many threats. Following the challenges of the Coronavirus pandemic and lockdowns, and now, with the community in the grip of the cost of living crisis and declining public services, we urgently need to know how we can strengthen community resilience and plan for a stronger Sunart for generations to come. Your views count!
The survey refers to a number of potential community projects. If you would like to research more about these or similar schemes, before you give us your opinion you our linktree page is a good starting point.
Here is a bit of background on our current projects to get you started:
DAIL MHOR BUILDINGS & VILLAGE HALL
In 2014 community consultation there was a lively discussion about the need for a new ‘community hub’ or multifunctional space to house community facilities. The buildings housing the Dail Mhor Care Home, Village Hall, Doctors Surgery and old primary all need to be replaced. Professional surveys have revealed it will be just too costly to upgrade or re-purpose them, so they will need to be demolished and replaced with modern buildings. Local charity Urram is seeking to gain commitments from the NHS about care services and the new doctors surgery on site, but the NHS and Council will not build a new hall. This will need to be taken forward by the community in some way, and some people would say Strontian already has the Sunart Centre so another venue is not required.
SUNART HERITAGE CENTRE & COMMUNITY SPACE
The 2014 community survey showed support for a Heritage Centre in Sunart to house and interpret the ‘Sunart Archive’ and provide a focal point for those interested in preserving and promoting local history and culture. The Strontian Parish Church building is to be disposed of in the next 12 months. The Sunart Community Company and Dualchas – Sunart Heritage Group are hoping to acquire it and with grant support, refurbish the building, preserving a piece of local history (and associated graveyard) but also to create a modern archive and exhibition space, and a small function room suitable for regular worship and small events. (A feasibility study will be done this winter to test financial viability.)
COMMUNITY BUYOUT OF LONGRIGG WOODLAND
Over the last few years a group has been exploring plans to buy this woodland for community benefit because Forestry and Land Scotland are putting it up for sale. A business plan has shown that funding is available and that community control would bring recreational, business and social benefits to the community in the long term, rather than a straightforward sale to a commercial timber company. (Full details are available on the Community Company website). Past consultations have shown strong community support for this plan. A new and enthusiastic group of residents has stepped up to form a Longrigg Steering Group to take this idea forward and they would like you to express an opinion.
Much of the work of the Sunart Community Company is dependent on the efforts of local volunteer Directors, (supported by a part time administrator, Becky, and our part time Oakwood Tourism & Crafts Manager – Karyn.) The more active board members we have, the more we can achieve. We welcome anyone over the age of 16 who wants to help shape the community’s future. You could join the board as a Director, lead a specific work party or volunteer to help deliver a project, clear a footpath or run a fund raising activity. Please get in contact if you would like to know more. Emall: firstname.lastname@example.org
Community councils are voluntary bodies run by local residents elected every 4 years, to act on behalf of its area. They receive a small amount of funding from Highland Council for admin. Community councillors play an important role in local democracy, bridging the gap between local authorities and communities and their primary role is to try and hold public agencies to account, or to represent the wishes of their community to public bodies. In Sunart, we are fortunate to receive some funding from local commercial hydro schemes and to be able to give out small grants to local groups each year. Meetings are the second Thursday of the month and usually last two hours. If you are interested in joining the community council as a co-optee please email: email@example.com
WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?
We hope that the majority of local residents and businesses will complete a survey (remember its one per person, not one per household) and online returns will be collated automatically throughout December. Any hard copies returned in the ‘ballot boxes’ in the village or posted to Becky, will be processed in early January.
At the Sunart Community Company AGM on the 28th January, (save the date) we hope to make a presentation of preliminary results and everyone is very welcome to attend the meeting to hear the these.
Thereafter we hope to publish a report on the results and arrange a series of dedicated public meetings (some on Zoom and some face to face) to discuss how the community might wish to prioritise and progress those ideas receiving support, or to tackle any issues which come to light in the responses. As usual, Sunart residents can keep in touch via Facebook, the monthly De tha Dol? SCC update and the community council and company websites.
Thank you for your time.