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Village halls research

08/12/2008

The results of the first-ever comprehensive research on village halls was published today.

The research provides a database of village halls, including their condition, use and who manages them. The results will help the Scottish Government work with rural communities to support the long-term sustainability of the facilities and the communities that use them.

Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs Richard Lochhead said village halls play a central role in rural life and are part of the economic and social fabric of the communities they serve.

The key findings include:

  • Four-fifths of village halls are owned by the communities they serve
  • Two-thirds are more than 50 years old and almost 66 per cent need improvements or repair
  • Management committees find it difficult to recruit and retain volunteers
  • Less than 20 per cent of committee members have undergone formal training in their role

Chairing the third meeting of the Rural Development Council in Finzean Village Hall, Banchory, Aberdeenshire, Richard Lochhead said:

"Village halls and other community facilities play a pivotal role in supporting rural life. Not only are they are they a hub for activities but they can be central to rural economic development.

"The current economic climate and its likely impact on communities is uppermost in all our minds. We are taking action to support the rural economy and this research will help inform our work.

"At the heart of our plans for rural Scotland is the £1.6 billion Scotland Rural Development Programme.

"Almost £150 million is on track to be allocated to rural communities and businesses and within this there is up to £30 million available, for community facilities and services including village halls.

"We are currently re-appraising the programme to make sure it is providing the best possible support for the rural economy."

The 'Community Facilities in Rural Scotland' research was commissioned and managed by the Scottish Government in collaboration with the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO), and undertaken by the Scottish Agricultural College.

Welcoming the research, John Ferguson, Director of Development Programmes with the SCVO said:

"I would like to thank the Scottish Government for their collaborative work with the SCVO in analysing the many community facilities throughout Scotland.

"This highlights the pivotal role halls play in many rural areas, providing not only a place to meet but supporting economic activity and growth.

"We share the challenge of ensuring they are valued for future generations."

The publication of the community facilities research was announced at the Rural Development Council meeting in Finzean Village Hall. Birse Community Trust, who manage the village hall, is widely recognised as a pioneering and successful community development trust. Mr Lochhead thanked the Trust for hosting the meeting and for the presentation they gave on their model for community action and the wider lessons that might be learned from it.

The Rural Development Council is a forum which will bring a broad range of expertise on rural matters to bear on strategic discussions which will shape the development of rural policy and practice in Scotland. It will consider how best rural Scotland can contribute to the creation of a more successful country, with opportunities for all of Scotland to flourish, through increasing sustainable economic growth.

The Council will assist Ministers in identifying any obstacles to achieving this goal, consider possible solutions, and offer advice to Scottish Ministers, including identifying priorities for action. The Council will also consider and advise on priority issues remitted to it by Scottish Ministers. Meetings will be held every three to four months with additional meetings held by specialist topic groups.

The Cabinet Secretary welcomed two new members onto the council: Sheila Garson and Michael Gray.

Sheila Garson has worked for Orkney Museums and Heritage for the past six years and is currently Curator of Social History. She is an active member of the community serving as a member of Shapinsay Community Council and chair of both Shapinsay Development Trust and Voluntary Action Orkney.

Michael Gray previously served as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of McQueen Ltd; a Galashiels based enterprise which developed from a local print company into a global technology services enterprise employing 1,300 staff world-wide. Mr Gray is now the Director of the Scottish Mortgage Investment Trust.

6. Under the Scotland Rural Development Programme (SRDP) 2007-2013 (which has a total budget of £1.6 billion) up to £30 million is available, under Rural Priorities, over seven years, for community facilities and services including village halls.

Funding through the various strands of the Rural Development Programme total over £147 million.

  • £61million under LFASS;
  • £38.5 million to Local Action Groups under the LEADER scheme;
  • £28.4million for Rural Priorities;
  • £11 million under the Food Processing, Marketing and Co-operation Scheme;
  • £4.5 million to just under 4,000 applicants through Land Managers Options - the non-competitive element of Rural Development Contracts;
  • Almost £3 million under the Crofting Counties Grant Scheme;
  • £1.3 million under the Forestry Challenge Funds (shortlisted but not yet approved);
  • £43,000 under the Skills Development Scheme