By Aileen MacLennan
Argyll and Bute Council has approved funding for five new community projects – two of them are in Helensburgh – via the Scottish Government’s Place Based Investment Programme (PBIP).
Over the next year, £561,000 will go to support a range of local projects across Argyll and Bute:
- Gibraltar Street, Oban – £250,000 to be invested in destination and landscape enhancements to improve access to Oban town centre
- Waterfront area, Helensburgh Pier – £163,000 will enhance the public realm and lighting of the masonry section of the Pier, matching the quality of the overall waterfront development.
- Castle House Gate Lodge and Castle Gardens, Dunoon – £70,000 will be invested in destination and landscape enhancements to improve safe access, establish the restored Gate Lodge as a bike bothy and improve its connectivity with the town
- Dunoon Burgh Hall – £50,000 to create an attractive outdoor garden café area to boost the building’s income generation potential and visually improve this area of the townscape.
- Hermitage Park, Helensburgh – £28,000 to support the ‘greening the bothy’ project
The PBIP can be used to deliver capital projects (rather than council services). In June, councillors approved the first phase of this year’s PBIP allocation with £260,000 going towards funding a shopfront improvement scheme across the area, repair work to the Tower Street building in Rothesay and a major upgrade to the Lochgilphead Front Green area.
Councillor Alastair Redman, left, Policy lead, Business, Regeneration and Commercial Development, said: “Revitalising key locations in our communities is an important part of growing our local economy and moving on from the economic impact of the covid pandemic.
“It also progresses our wider ambitions of attracting the visitors, people and skills to the area needs to prosper.
“Funding from the Place Based Investment Programme plays a significant part in supporting some fantastic projects that will further enhance our towns and neighbourhoods.”
As well as this year’s funding, the Scottish Government has also committed to providing all local authorities with Place Based Investment funding on an annual basis for the next four years. Argyll and Bute’s share is still to be confirmed. Recommendations for at least four key projects for Argyll and Bute are scheduled to be considered by the Policy and Resources Committee in February 2022.
Meanwhile, businesses affected by the covid pandemic can soon apply for covid-recovery grants from a fund of more than £500,000.
The council, at its meeting today of the Policy and Resources Committee, approved the launch of the Covid Hardship Fund, to support businesses facing financial difficulties due to the pandemic.
Three levels of grant award will be available:
· £2,000 for businesses with no employees
· £5,000 for businesses with up to 9 employees
· £10,000 for businesses with 10+ employees
Funding will be distributed on a first come, first served basis for applicants who meet key criteria including:
· The business will suffer hardship if support is not awarded.
· The business is viable going forward.
· The circumstances are exceptional and COVID related.
Council Leader, Councillor Robin Currie, right, said: “The pandemic’s been tough for local businesses. This fund is all about making help available for businesses struggling to deal with, and move on from, the impact of covid-19.”
Initial information on the fund is available at Item 13 of the Policy and Resources Committee agenda – Agenda for Policy and Resources Committee on Thursday, 12 August 2021, 10:30 am – Argyll and Bute Council (argyll-bute.gov.uk)
Further information on the opening date for the fund, eligibility criteria, and details of how to apply will be available in two weeks on the council’s website, and promoted through social media and other communication channels.
The funding comes from £2.4 million of Scottish Government funding allocated to the council.
The council has already awarded over £1.9 million to businesses, and approved the Argyll and Bute COVID Business Hardship Fund to distribute the remaining funds as the area begins to move out of COVID restrictions.
Also, local businesses are being encouraged to find out how a new gift card scheme, approved by Argyll and Bute Council today, could help them.
The aim of the Argyll and Bute Loves Local Gift Card initiative is to encourage local shopping, drive footfall to community businesses and keep spend local in the local area for longer.
The cards are suitable for small independent and national retailers with no costs to individual businesses. They can be used for face-to-face transactions, and online where a business has a ‘bricks and mortar’ presence in Argyll and Bute.
Businesses are being encouraged to sign up to join the scheme before the Argyll and Bute card is launched in the Autumn. They can do that on this www.lovelocal.scot/giftcard website.
West Clyde Street in Helensburgh, which is part of Argyll and Bute.
The Scotland’s Town Partnership (STP), on behalf of Scottish Government, will cover the full costs of the first year’s pilot scheme of the card. The council will support delivery of the card by launching and promoting its use in the pilot year, and assessing its impact and potentially options for future funding.
Councillor Redman said: “The last 18 months have been very challenging for our business community and we want to do everything we can to help by encouraging people across Argyll and Bute to shop locally. I would encourage local businesses to find out more about the card and how it could help them.”
A report on the impact of the card and on-going costs will go to the Policy and Resources Committee in 2022 for consideration.
More information about the card is available on www.lovelocal.scot/giftcard