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November 24, 2010

Glass is half full in Stranraer

Stranraer has always been known as a ferry port. So when the ferry operator announced it was upping sticks and moving its base to Cairn Ryan, many felt this would be the death knell for the town. But this is a community with real fighting spirit and a can-do attitude. A new organisation has been formed to take full advantage of what they see as a whole new set of opportunities to improve the town

A new organisation that is dreaming of a brighter future for Stranraer has just been officially founded.

About 40 people attended a meeting that proposed the establisment of a development trust for the town. A unanimous show of hands officially brought the new Trust into existence and ratified its proposed constitution. The organisation will be known as the Stranraer and District Community Action and will be open to anyone over the age of 16 who is a permanent resident of Stranraer, Kirkholm, Leswal, Portpatrick or the parishes of Kirkmaden, Inch, New Luce or Old Luce. Its  objective, as written in the constitution is “to build a resilient, inclusive, enterprising community dealing with ongoing change”

Development Trusts are community led organisations that allow residents to take control by suggesting and pushing forward ideas to improve the area.

They use self help, trading for social purpose and ownership of buildings and land to bring about long term social economic and environmental benefits.

An initial meeting about the idea was held in September and was attended by Stranraer councillor Willie Scobie and Galloway and Upper Nithsdale MSP Alex Ferguson.

Since then a working group has met weekly to push forward the plans culmination in the most recent meeting to form the Trust. After the positive public vote, the new Trust is in a position to start bidding for funds.

Working group member and Leswalt resident Bob Hill chaired Wednesday’s meeting.

He said that the Development Trust would allow the community to have a greater influence over their future. The general consensus was that the ferry move to north of Cairnryan should be seen as positive for Stranraer and as an opportunity to push forward with projects. Mr Scobie said that the Trust had the potential to become an employer in the town. It would attempt to secure its own offices.

During the evening the meeting heard from five individuals who proposed ideas that the Trust could develop.
• Notice boards and signs: for local businesses to help promote local businesses and to help identify for visitors the precise location of individual shops and businesses
• Stranraer 150: to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the railway arriving in Stranraer. It would promote the town and bring in visitors.
• Five Gateways to Stranraer: to reinforce local children’s pride in their town, Stranraer’s five primary schools would each take responsibility for a gateway into the town.
• Blooming Stranraer: brightening up the town centre by planting flowers and putting up hanging baskets – possibly leading to the town entering the Scotland in Bloom competition.
• Coastline and Water Sports: kayaking, sailing, water skiing and scuba diving would take advantage of Stranraer’s spectacular waterfront and get youngsters involved. Sightings of wildlife at sea provided the opportunity for nature watching using rigid inflatable boats (RIBs).