There are high hopes a former primary school could be used to save a growing number of Banffshire community groups from going under.
Banff And Macduff Men’s Shed volunteers have set their sights on the former Fife Street School in Macduff as a permanent headquarters.
But their aspirations are not limited to their own expansion, as leaders reveal their planned move could save many local organisations from giving up due to a lack of space.
Chairman Bob Copland told us: “If we don’t get Fife Street School there are quite a few groups that are just going to fold as there is nowhere else suitable.
“There are a lot of groups that used leisure centres and schools but because of Covid, they are not allowed back into schools. That means they will all be vying for the leisure centre space once the vaccine programme is out of there.
“It will make things really difficult and we just want to do what we can to help.”
Covid stalled progress on Fife Street School asset transfer in Macduff
The group was close to securing the 1930s school in a community asset transfer (CAT) at the beginning of last year but then, Covid took hold.
With Aberdeenshire Council staff stretched in dealing with the pandemic and Men’s Shed activities scaled back, the building was very nearly sold earlier this summer.
But the CAT bid has been revived at the eleventh hour to secure the former primary school before crunch talks with local authority officials next month.
Councillors will meet in September to decide whether to sell the property on the market or embark on the transfer process with the Men’s Shed.
Hundreds of people attended a consultation event the group hosted at the school, which closed to pupils in 1969, earlier this month – with visitors “overwhelmingly supportive” of the plans.
Now in need of maintenance, the Men’s Shed – with their dozens of members drawing upon years of trade and DIY projects – argue they would be perfectly placed to take the mothballed building on.
It was previously brought back into use by Aberdeenshire Council and the former Banff and Buchan College in 2003 after a £540,000 conversion into a lifelong learning centre.
That transformation included the construction of a creche – which could be sacrificed for another group looking for a home in the area.
Toddler group could be saved from brink of collapse by takeover of Macduff’s Fife Street School
Mr Copland added: “There is a ready-made nursery in there and there is a toddler group that cannot go back into the primary school because of Covid.
“It is an area we really could use but there’s no sense in destroying a nursery when there is a toddlers group really keen to make use of it.
“It was a space, when we initially viewed the building, that we thought would be great for us but it would be selfish – so we are doing what we can to help people.”
The Men’s Shed is looking to stray from the usual CAT procedure, which only allows six months for successful groups to come up with the agreed cost.