The public meeting last night [30th August] of Ardrishaig Community Trust turned out to be less controversial than it might have been. A leafleting exercise in the village earlier in the day had suggested some faction fighting might be in the air over the Trust’s partnership in the Allt Dearg wind farm on the ridge above Loch Fyne.
On the night, people kept their heads down, although one member of the audience asked a director of the wind farm how it was that what is now said to be £100,000 per annum community revenue from the turbine it owns was originally estimated at £60,000. The answer – not the most convincing – was ‘Well, they do vary a bit’.
Some present were concerned as to whether the Directors of the Trust were to be paid,
It was explained that the Articles of Association of the Trust specifically exclude payment for time spent as a Director. The meeting was told that the directors give substantial amounts of their time on a voluntary basis. Even travel expenses are paid only in exceptional circumstances where distance is excessive.
There was interest in the heARTof ARGYLL project which is taking over an empty shop in the village for 10 weeks as an artists’ studio. It will provide a focus for discussion about the potential for public art in Ardrishaig.
heARTofARGYLL is a joint project between ArtMap Argyll, Kilmartin House Museum and the Heart of Argyll Tourism Alliance [HoATA].
Carron Tobin of HoATA talked about the relevance of tourism to Ardrishaig. She also outlined the role of the HoATA in bringing together the various festivals in the area to give them more visibility and suggested that the village might want to have an Ardrishaig Spring Festival as an added attraction.
Discussion was held around various regeneration projects. There was a strong body of opinion in the room that the Public Hall should only be refurbished and never redeveloped on that or another site in the village. A pretty uncompromising view.
We wonder if consultations with two communities which have taken contrasting decisions on this same matter night be helpful.
Ardfern, a wealthy community on the Craignish peninsula, went for a new build – Craignish Village Hall, a spectacular resource on the waterside, with its own parking, capable of hosting and catering large scale events and weddings. This and other such private hires, generates revenue.
Furnace on Loch Fyne went for a refurbishment for two main reasons. The cost of new build for a small community would be difficult both to raise and service. There were concerns about leaving a legacy of debt to the next generation The existing village hall also occupies a valuable central position in the village on a site whose footprint would not allow a larger development – which the village does not really need. Refurbishment, as the Furnace project showed, can also reshape the interior of an existing structure.
It could be interesting to see the ideas for Ardrishaig emerging from the involvement of these other Mid Argyll communities.
The Ardrishaig meeting, which was well run and orderly, should have gone some way to allaying fears and to demonstrate that the Trust has been and will continue to play a useful and invigorating role in the village.