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Greencoat Drone Hill Community Fund

01 January 2014

Where: Four community council areas within Berwickshire, Scottish Borders.  
Fund Values: The base value for the wind farm is £40,000 per annum (RPI indexed).
Date established: 2012
Administration: Foundation Scotland administers the Fund including assessing applications.
Governance: A community panel makes decisions on awards.

Establishing the Fund
The Fund was established after a series of meetings between Foundation Scotland and representatives of the four community councils local to the wind farm. Foundation Scotland had been approached by the developer to discuss fund management with the communities. At that point the developer was AES Wind Generation. The meetings discussed various scenarios for setting up the fund. Representatives agreed to establish a single Fund across the four communities but to ensure the four areas benefitted equally by monitoring the spread of applications and awards. It was felt that this arrangement would enable support to smaller village specific projects whilst also investing in larger area wide projects if they emerged.

The Fund is overseen by a local Advisory Panel comprising 12 local residents from across the four communities. Each community is represented by three members: one from the Community Council and two from the wider community. This arrangement was proposed and agreed by the original development group. A Panel Register of Interests is maintained and Declarations of Interest are a standing, minuted Agenda item. Generally decisions are reached by discussion and consensus but if necessary a vote can be taken. Awards are publicised locally after each round. A leaflet promotes the Fund across the four communities.

Determining fund purposes and criteria
A Community Profile was produced, informed by other local studies and research reports and some local consultation work. Foundation Scotland worked with the new Panel to review the Profile and consultation findings. These discussions informed the Fund purpose and priorities and which are reflected on the application guidance material. As the Fund becomes more established these priorities will be reviewed to try and ensure it is meeting community needs and aspirations and which may of course change over times.

How does the community access the Funds?
The Fund is still in its early stages and only in its second year of operating, during which two grant-making rounds were run. Any balance is carried over to the next year. A small proportion of the Fund may be distributed in the form of ‘micro’ grants of up to £250 each through a scheme administered by each Community Councils. These micro grants are available directly from the local Community Council who will consider and award these smaller grants directly, primarily but not exclusively for the benefit of constituted community groups and individuals keen to pursue an activity for the benefit of the community. Each Community Council intends operating this scheme during 2014.

Management and Administration 
Foundation Scotland’s administration reduces the work on the volunteer panel members who nevertheless still have significant preparation to do ahead of each meeting. The meetings are purposeful and structured with various standard agenda items including a review of the latest Fund Statement. Foundation Scotland undertake independent assessments on the applications received and the Panel decides on awards. The Panel appreciate having ‘an outsiders perspective’ on the applications. This impartiality can be particularly helpful in smaller communities. Once approved by the Panel, Foundation Scotland sets up and monitors grants, providing the Panel with feedback as projects are implemented.

Achieving Impact 
Improving and enhancing the local natural environment
Reston Community Company owns, develops and maintains a 9-acre recreational space along the riverside in Reston for the use of the local community, including a children’s adventure playpark, and community woodland with an orchard. A grant of £2500 enabled RCC to purchase a ride-on lawnmower. This has allowed the group to better maintain the area. With regular access to a mower, RCC can now maintain the local play area and pathways with greater frequency and flexibility, greatly improving the experience of the many local people who use the area for mixed recreation and leisure. As well as being used in the riverside park, the lawnmower is also used to maintain core pathways and rights of way around the village.

Improving and enhancing community facilities
Cocksburnspath Village Hall Committee owns and manages the local village hall which is the hub of communtiy activity for the village’s 1200 residents. Alongside the various exercise and recreational classes, coffee mornings and fundraising events, it is let for events and functions to community and statutory organisations and services.

£5000 from the Fund is contributing to the costs of improving the hall’s acoustics and purchasing audio-visual equipment that will enable a programme of film screening for local adults and children throughout the year. This will include film nights for young people and adults, plus Saturday morning children’s film sessions. The project is a response to community members’ interest in film and their wish for a community film viewing facility more local than the cinema 22 miles away in Berwick-upon-Tweed. Once complete the enhancements will diversify the range of activities on offer at the hall, providing education and entertainment for the community while increasing usage – for example the local school with it’s 90+ role will use it during the school day - and contributing to the hall’s financial sustainability.

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