A dozen community projects “incredibly exciting both in their ambition and in their contribution to community life” can move ahead as more than £300,000 is distributed around Caithness from the Highland coastal communities fund.
These include almost £50,000 for Caithness Voluntary Group to tackle mental health issues, more than £75,000 for outdoor spaces and trails in Dunnet, Keiss and John O Groats with a further £67,000 for the Thurso community development trust’s Thurso Grows project.
Brough Bay harbour project will receive £27,000 , while Scrabster harbour trust will see £18,700 for an upgrade of the cruise ship gangway.
Thurso youth club is to get more than £40,000 towards its refurbishment, while almost £10,000 will go towards a new post office for Wick, subject to a business plan being submitted.
Befrienders Highland will get more than £7,000 for their Caithness expansion, and St John’s episcopal church in Wick receives £15,000 for the provision of an accessible toilet and improved access to the church building.
Caithness was awarded £409,000 from Highland’s £3 million share of the new coastal communities fund, derived from revenue generated by the Crown Estate’s marine assets.
The fund is designed to support economic regeneration in coastal areas, with communities bidding into it for their projects.
Approvals are made at local level by Highland Council’s Caithness committee, chaired by councillor Nicola Sinclair.
She said: “Elected members have had access to funding with complete local control over how it is spent.
“The result is a suite of applications from the community that are incredibly exciting both in their ambition and in their contribution to community life and the expertise being brought to the table.
“From forest walks to coastal paths to mental health support services and harbour improvements, taken together these applications show the outstanding work of our local third sector.
“The remaining funds from this initial two-year allocation now give us the opportunity to secure match funding and accelerate the pace of some of the economic opportunities we see on the horizon.
“These will benefit the whole county in terms of employment, supply chain development, skills and training, and ultimately form part of our ambition to reverse population decline in Caithness.”
Two projects were declined by the committee on grounds that they did not sufficiently demonstrate value for money, but they can return to a later funding round with a new application if the issues are addressed.
The committee agreed to hold back almost £100,000 to be invested progressing a project to benefit the whole of Caithness economically, with a view to securing match funding for local partners. This be discussed publicly at the next Caithness area committee.
Meanwhile Nairn’s £12,000 share of the costal communities pot has been awarded to two projects.
St Ninian’s JFC will receive £3,500 to buy new equipment and safety storage which will enable the group to continue to promote participation in football activities.
NairnBID receives £8,590 to make Nairn more welcoming for community and visitors.
The project includes replacing or maintaining some of the town’s tourism and visitor infrastructure including replacing and upgrading wayfarer town direction signage and replacing eight picnic tables units to ensure their longevity with low maintenance and improving their accessibility.
Visitors will be pointed to digital digital resources such as a website and online maps under the NairnScotland branding.
The town’s public hardware such as lampposts, railings, bollards, and benches from the railway station to the foot of the Brae/A96 junction will all get a lick of paint.