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November 14, 2007

Villagers buy local school

The remote village of Eskdalemuir has seen the loss of its shop, its pub and other services – but the locals are fighting back. They`ve formed a development group and have taken ownership of the former primary school for £1.

Upper Eskdale Development Group

The Upper Eskdale Development Group after lengthy negotiations with Dumfries and Galloway Council took over ownership of the former Eskdalemuir primary school for £1, with a symbolic hand over of the keys from Councillor Archie Dryburgh to UEDG Chairman Nick Jennings. UEDG is a ‘not for profit’ organisation run by its members and membership is open to residents of Eskdalemuir and Bentpath. It aims to further the regeneration of the community and community spirit within the local area and at its open day last month another 30 members signed up. The group has ambitious plans to set up a community café and resource centre at the school which will be run for the community by the community. Nick says ‘in buying the school we achieved just the first small step but we’ve got a exciting journey ahead. We have an enthusiastic group of volunteers and they’re now ready to set to forward. To find out how to join in this adventure visit our website’.

Eskdalemuir is one of the remotest settlements in the area and over the years it has seen the loss of its shop, pub and many public services but the community are determined to see good things about living there can be built upon and shared with residents and visitors alike. The Group has recently applied to the Council for 3 year funding to help kick start the project by employing a part-time worker to help the volunteers. They hope that the project will become self-financing and generate jobs and business opportunities. They hope not only to help the community maintain and develop its self reliance but also create reasons and opportunities for young people to stay or move into the area. The group is keen to use the local timber which is in abundance to heat the school and have solar and other renewable technologies. There is strong interest in sustainable development and using local goods and services and helping to develop local suppliers are central to the project.