Having come to our fifth annual general meeting the Chairman & Committee of Urras Tac Chalanais take this opportunity to thank all the members for their ongoing support in this exciting venture of the development of the land gifted to us.
DEVELOPMENT OF THE LAND: The development of the land is our main priority for the project and we continue to work towards our initial goal. The revised cost of the project is now £2.2M. In addition to the main proposed project we await the result of the SRDP land management scheme as alternative form of income to be reinvested in the future larger development. We are also looking to develop community pathways, enquiring about funding for a camping pod project and looking at the possibility of self catering chalets as well as some renewable sources of energy.
CAMPING POD PROJECT: A new innovative exciting project is being considered to situate camping pods at various locations on the farm. These will be the first of their kind in the area and could be in situ for the 2012 seoson. They will provide a steady stream of income for UTC
LOCAL DEVELOPMENT OFFICER: John Smith has been working productively throughout the year sourcing funding and filling in application forms for these. We are thankful to have his expertise in form filling and funding as well as meeting members of various bodies in order to progress the project. He will update you on the ongoing work in his own report.
CHARITABLE STATUS: We are delighted to report that the Urras have been successful in obtaining charitable status . The news came though recently and should be of great benefit to us in our future applications for private funding
FUNDING: Our applications for funding will be given in more detail by the Local Development Officer but some of the main bodies applied to for funding are HIE, SRDP, Comhailre nan Eilean Siar, ( Community Land & Resources Fund and Tourism in the Community Fund) and The Big Lottery application (stage 1) which unfortunately was not successful at this stage. We will be looking into revising the application to aim for a positive outcome. We are awaiting news on our SRDP submission for the grazing which will bring in revenue of £23,000 over a five year period in land management premiums.
URRAS TAC OFFICE: As you all know the Urras Tac office is situated in the Portacabin at Callanish Quay. It has been equipped as an office with kitchen and toilet facilities. We are trying to be patient in awaiting a water connection to the cabin for which the paper trail seems to be endless.! Our local development officer alternates his working day between the office and home until such time as the water is connected. As is the case for any place of work there is also a list of other minor things to complete to make it compliant with Health & Safety regulations. However once the water is connected I’m sure he’d be happy for you to drop in on him for a cup of tea and a chat about the Urras. The deal is – you bring your own cakes!
COMMUNITY ACCOUNT MANAGER: John Smith and the Chairman recently met with Lewis Mackenzie our Community Account manager from HIE to discuss the growth plan progress. Our discussion brought up a few interesting smaller projects which could be going ahead until we await finance for the main project. These ideas had been considered at a previous UTC meeting and will require further discussion. The Local development officer will give a brief outline of these prospective projects in his own report.
LOCAL FUNDRAISING: We are looking to be more pro active in local fundraising for the Urras and any plans for these will be advertised locally. We would greatly appreciate your support at any future fundraising event and would encourage all members of the community to take part. If you have any fundraising ideas please speak to anyone on the committee and we will be happy to bring it a meeting for discussion
ANIMAL GRAZING/USE OF THE LAND – We would encourage you as members to make use of grazing the land. To date the payment system for grazing has not been operating as smoothly as we would have liked. The basic procedure is that you notify the secretary when you wish to graze the animals on the land who will then calculate the payment due. The committee will be considering a better way of managing payment for grazings and members will be subsequently informed. Up til now we have not issued invoices but an invoicing system may be worth considering for the future. If SRDP is approved grazings management will change.
COMMUNITY PATHWAYS: As part of the Growth plan a Community Pathway project is being progressed in partnership with Breasclete Community Association, Comhairle nan Eilean Siar and Sustainable Transport Scotland.. The project involves creating an interconnected continuous pathway linking Garynahine, Callanish and Breasclete which can be used for walking, cycling, horse-riding and general recreational purposes. The pathway will be a safe and direct easy access for members of the community and will link up all major community facilities.
COMMUNITY CONSULTATION: A letter of consultation will shortly be issued to every home in the community on 1) Camping Pod project , and 2) Community Pathway
WEBSITE: A website is now up and running and can be accessed at www.callanishfarmtrust.co.uk It should be informative and helpful in promoting Urras Tac Chalanias and will be updated on a regular basis.
ELECTION: One person resigned from the Board of Directors earlier in the year. We thank Kathleen Macdonald for her contribution during her time on the Committee. There is therefore one place to fill on the Committee and as we have two nominees we must hold an election at this AGM. The nominees are Margaret Macdonald and Kirsty Maclennan.
FUTURE PROSPECTS: In an ongoing difficult economic climate, the Local development Officer and members of Urras Tac Chalanais will continue to strive towards the development of the land though all available channels. UTC’s aim is to seek how best to benefit the community as a whole and especially the residents of Calanais, though the provision of this unique facility in our local area. They will strive to create local employment and endeavour to attract tourists to our area through the project. As indicated earlier all the proposed development is dependent on funding and we hope for positive outcomes in order to progress the work.
We look to you as the residents of Callanish to support the Committee in their aspirations and also to bring your own views or ideas to any member of the Committee for discussion at the meetings. Remember it is your land!