A small group of volunteers in Girvan have been earning praise after recent successes including the transformation of its near-derelict town house into a functiioning hub for community businesses.
Formed after the Scottish Government charrette initiative in 2012, the small group of volunteers who comprise Girvan’s Town team are now able to report success including efforts to refurbish the Girvan’s Town House, refurbish its bandstand and encourage new local businesses.
Now eight months into his role, Town Team Co‑ordinator Roddy MacDonald said it has been a positive year for the town team with progress made from charrette meetings which outlined what local people wanted to see improved in the town.
“Being appointed to the post of Girvan Town Team Coordinator in May 2014 was indeed an honour but also a pleasant surprise.” said Roddy.
“It had been a number of years since I had worked in the town and as most readers will know it was a challenging time for us all!
“It was good to be back. An early priority was to get out and about and to meet as many individuals and groups as possible to listen carefully to their ambitions for the town and to respond as effectively as possible to what they had to say. And so the journey to developing partnerships began.”
For Roddy engagement with key stakeholders included, though not exclusively, the community council, Ailsa Horizons, Girvan Youth Trust, Adventure Centre for Education, Age Concern, South Carrick Community Leisure, South Carrick Community Learning Partnership, Carrick Rural Opportunities Project, Carrick Rural Arts Group, Rainbow Foods, the Community Garden, Voluntary Action South Ayrshire, Stepping Stones for Families, Ayrshire and Arran Tourism, the head teachers in the area, the council officers and elected members.
“And of course not to forget the Town Team itself,” added Roddy, “so ably chaired by Ian Mclachlan and supported by so many enthusiastic individuals including Irene and Roger of the management team, and David providing excellent administration support, bringing their energy and ideas to the table at the monthly meetings at the Girvan Town House.
“It is clear that Girvan has a hugely committed community focussed on doing what is best for the town. Given recent history it is important to acknowledge the progress that has been made especially in relation to the swimming pool and tribute must be paid to those individuals engaged in South Carrick Community Leisure, chaired by Andrew Sinclair, and supported by South Ayrshire Council, officers and members alike. They all deserve much credit for their tenacity and vision. The pool will indeed be a major asset to the community.”
Roddy was keen to stress that one key aspect of his work in the town over the past months has been to support the development of the Town House.
“The significant investment from the council has provided a very sound basis for the development of an important hub for Girvan,” he said.
“In May the Visitor Information Point was launched. It is a testament to the enthusiasm and energy generated by volunteers whose civic pride in Girvan has provided the town with an excellent stopping off point for tourists in the area.
“Well done to Lorraine, Tricia, Marilyn, Ken, Tony, Winifred and the many other volunteers for their support to this initiative and many thanks for their contribution to the Town House Users Group which has coordinated the overall activity in the Town House. The progress made would not have been possible without them.
“The Visitor Information Point now complements a range of services being provided in the Town House by Nikki from Stepping Stones for Families, Chris and the team from Adventure Centre for Education, who both also contribute to the Users Group, Voluntary Action South Ayrshire and now from Joanne whose Little Arts School will begin this year and has already been named as an Award Winning Scottish Innovative Business of 2014. The foundations for a successful future for the Town House are now well established.
“On reviewing the Charette it is clear that progress has been made but that much still has to be achieved. On the positives we have established the so called ‘Nerve Centre‘ at the Town House with progress being made on the Website, Photography Wall and partnership working. However, a number of the big ticket items still require to be driven forward.
“I applaud Bill and the Girvan Youth Trust for their energy, enthusiasm and innovation with respect to the Summer Programme and have promised him every support from the Town Team in his engagement with the Council regarding the rebirth of the Band Stand.
“I know that this iconic building is very important to the people of Girvan and is very much part of its proud historic past. It also has a role to play in the town’s future. The issues concerning Victory Park also require to be addressed. The problems with drainage are well known and its impact on the level of use over the years by the School and wider community is profound. I am currently engaging with the Council to plan a way forward for this land. I am confident that I will receive their support in taking this key issue forward.
“The Town Team itself has had a very positive year. The meetings have been well attended, lively and enthusiastic and have resulted in providing a momentum for the team and indeed the town itself. Currently there is engagement with the council to review the options in relation to the development of a more formal legal entity. This would allow the team to apply for external funds and robustly support the regeneration of Girvan. I will keep you updated on this journey.
“Finally, a key aspect of my engagement with the Girvan community has been the ‘surgeries’ on Thursday mornings which provided an opportunity for individuals and groups to meet with me informally and share their ideas for the future regeneration of the town.
“As an initiative it has been very successful. In 2015 I intend to complement this by providing individuals and groups with the opportunity to share their talents with me and the Town Team to unlock the undoubted potential in the community.
“It will be a two-way process. As well as the sharing of these talents I will also commit to support the individuals and groups personally to optimise their potential, talents and well being. Watch this space for more information in the near future.
“I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for your support over the tenure of my post and I can assure you of my commitment to Girvan for the remainder of my time here. A good 2015 to you all.”
The Girvan Town Team meet on the first Thursday of every month at 6.30pm at Girvan Town House. Meetings are open to the public.