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Gatehouse Development Initiative Project Update : April 2020

With normal meetings suspended due to the current crisis, we thought it would be useful to provide a short update on our current projects.

During this difficult time our priority must be to keep safe and to look out for those in most need.  The GDI is working closely with the Community Council to provide Covid19 advice to the people of Gatehouse.  Please let us know if there is any other information we should be providing.

Inevitably projects are on hold but there are some things we can get on with at home.  We are keeping in touch with funders to ensure that projects do not fall through because we have not received the necessary match funding.  

 

Wheels of Fleet

Wheels of Fleet has been successful in obtaining funding through the D&G Council’s Participatory Budgeting Tackling Poverty process receiving a grant of £5,000. This has allowed the project to also secure £10,000 from Paths for All!  Match-funding in the form of lots of volunteer hours will build bicycle skills in the community and encourage cycling in Gatehouse! Of course, much is on hold at present, and we will have to wait to see when people can once again volunteer in the workshop. When afe to do so the programme of activity includes: 

* Support people to cycle, through giving/selling/hiring bikes to local people and visitors

* Organise a regional bicycle conference (this was postponed due to the lockdown starting). 

* Install bike shelters

* Support families to run 'cycle trains'

* Print and distribute local bicycle routes leaflets

* Coordinate and promote active travel challenges e.g cycle to yoga or school weeks.

* Promote and lead bicycle rides in the local area, e.g. for women/families/young people

* Provide regular bicycle maintenance workshops.

Gatehouse Squirrel Group

A design has been agreed for the wildlife hide in the woods by Cally Gardens, but the C-19 lockdown has for now prevented any work being done by the Mens’ Shed under Campbell Blair’s direction. Saving Scotland’s Red Squirrels has had to call a halt to grey control activities, as well as its Spring Survey at fixed sites which has been repeated annually since 2013. GSG members monitor sites in this scheme at Cally Deer Park, Laurieston Forest and Creetown, and the report for 2019 showed evidence of reds at least holding their own and greys even receding slightly in South Scotland. Locally there continues to be a steady increase in reds, as in previous springs of our own Garden Survey involving around 20 households. Greys are occasional but widespread, being recorded from beyond Carsluith to Cally Woods.

Stone heritage route

Our partners across Europe are all in lock down but they are continuing to put images on the REPSdrystone Facebook page for our dry stone heritage route project.  We will also be working on the project details at home.

Kiosk

The GDI has worked with Kirkcudbright and Castle Douglas to seek the transfer of the former Tourist information Centres from Visit Scotland at a nominal sum for our communities.  A business plan has been prepared and submitted to Visit Scotland. They have received our plan but they too, are on hold and will get back to us in due course.

Riverside Play Park

This project is paused due to the crisis, however the funding from the D&G Council has been received along with an update from them on where they are in terms of site preparation and ordering of the equipment. Council priorities are understandably elsewhere just now and the equipment manufacturer has also closed their factory for now. All the funders should be happy that finances are in place and the curent delay is unavoidable.  Once it is feasible to do so the installation is good to go.

Fleet Valley Volunteers

Until pausing activities the volunteers have been busy on a variety of tasks alongside a number of organisations. At the turn of the year the volunteers joined the Butterfly Conservation Trust cutting back gorse at Carrick Bay. Since then the paths in Cally woods have been cleared of leaves etc, and the grounds at the Mill on the Fleet have been tidied up ready for the opening of the tourist season. The volunteers joined Scottish Natural Heritage (now rebranded as NatureScot) at Cairnsmore National Nature Reserve planting trees, and with the Galloway Fisheries Trust planting trees and cutting down unwanted saplings alongside the Little Water of Fleet. A change from the usual type of work was working with the Borgue PLACE Group at Castle Haven (near the Coo Palace) removing ivy and other vegetation from the walls and the surrounding area.

The Mill entertained the volunteers to a tea and cakes event to show their appreciation of the work done in the grounds of the mill.

The volunteers are a hardy bunch and not put off by bad weather. When out with SNH the weather was a lovely spring day, blue sky, warm and calm and enjoyed by those who were there. In contrast  the weather was dreadful when out with Galloway Fisheries Trust planting trees by the Little Water of Fleet. The morning was fine with low cloud, however, the weather turned in the afternoon and those who stayed on into the afternoon got soaked through to the skin. Such is the life of a volunteer.

Fun Outdoors 

The GDI has received funding from the Nineveh Charitable Trust to deliver a week of outdoor woodland activities for children of high school age. We were planning to hold this at the beginning of July, but because of Covid 19 it is very uncertain whether we will be able to go ahead with it at that time, it may need to be postponed, therefore we haven't started to advertise it as yet.

Market

Inevitably this has had to be suspended until further notice although the butcher William Lindsay is happy to take phone orders with home delivery on Saturdays. Tel: 01671 820248.

Gatehouse News

Another edition was delivered round the town in late February.  Again this project is paused until we see how the year is developing.

Website

The website has been adjusted slightly to provide more focus on Covid-19 information for the community and for reference.  We are working closely with the Community Council and the site is updated as required.

The future

The present crisis will hit rural areas like Gatehouse which are so dependent on tourism very hard.  Once we get the all clear we will be able to help to get things back on their feet.