Westray Development TrustNews

March 2022 Newsletter

General News

WDT held an EGM on Thursday 17th March and the Board would like to thank the Members who came on the night and also those who took the time to post their votes. We would like to welcome George Thomson to the Board of Westray Development Trust and Peter White to the Project Evaluation Group.

Bayview Housing Project 

Sadly a further delay on the Bayview Housing project is expected. Unfortunately, a combination of continued supply delays, labour shortages, sub-contractor delays, and poor weather, means that the project completion is expected to be delayed by several weeks. However, despite these issues progress is still being made. Indoor works are further along and focus has been turned to progress the external works at the rear of Bayview. This includes finalising the drainage works as well as preparing to pave the lower end of the site. At the moment until new supply and subcontractor dates have been provided a new projected completion date cannot be confirmed. 

Westray Fuel Grant

At Westray Development Trust we’re finishing up our fourth round of Westray Fuel Grants. Since winter 2019 we’ve awarded 933 Fuel Grants, that’s £188,800 of funding that has directly supported Westray households with their energy bills. As we’re an island of about 600 people with fewer than 300 households that is a huge number!

The Westray Fuel Grant was first established in response to the high levels of fuel poverty and a higher cost of living recorded in the North Isles. In recognition that all are affected in different ways by these higher costs in our community, and the firm belief that a universal grant would reduce stigma ensuring the grant reached those who needed it most, the WDT Board agreed to make a Fuel Grant available to all Westray households. Until this point, this Fuel Grant has been reviewed annually and based on available underspend from previous WDT financial years.

Winter 2019 – A £150 fuel grant was available per household.

April 2020 – £200 (Extra grant in recognition of the additional impacts of COVID-19)

Winter 2020/21 – £150

Winter 2021/22 – £300

However, as of March 2022, the WDT Board has agreed to make the Fuel Grant a permanent fund (available each winter) to ensure that this grant program becomes a priority for WDT. This means WDT will ensure that there is funding available for this grant program every winter rather than it being dependent on previous underspends. The grant will still be reviewed annually to ensure it remains in keeping with the needs of the Westray community.

In order to pre-empt the predicted energy price rises in October 2021 the Winter 2022/23 Fuel Grant will be launched in early September. The amount available per household will be announced closer to the time.

We’re still processing the remaining Winter 2021/22 grants so please be patient as applications only closed at the end of February 2022. If you haven’t recieved your Fuel Grant by the end of March 2022 please get in touch then.

A huge amount of work goes into organising and processing the fuel grants so we’d like to give a special shout out to our Finance Officer Margo Makin, and our Treasurer Gill McEwen, the local post offices/shops, and everyone who has helped out for all their hard work.

Bargain Box

The Bargain Box is now open Wednesdays and Saturdays 10am – 4pm. No appointments are necessary but the usual COVID-19 rules of face masks and using hand sanitiser apply.

Before our Building Warrant for the new WDT Office/Bargain Box extension can be finalised OIC has requested SBEM energy calculations for the extension. The WDT Board has accepted a quote for this work which is now being arranged. Once completed OIC should have all the information need to make a decision on our Building Warrant application. 

Community Garden by Kieran Fowler

A couple of weeks ago Mark and I visited the Papay Community Garden. We had a great day out touring round their site, learning about some of their challenges and hearing their future plans. We even got roped in to helping with the construction of a hot bed! The surprise work was worth it though as we were treated to a lovely lunch put on by the Papay garden team and volunteers.
Later on in the day, Mark gave a talk on holistic gardening practices and there were some great discussions with people who had come down to hear the talk. We look forward to welcoming the Papay folk for the return leg to visit us in Westray.

With the incoming change of season (hooray!) we thought it might be a nice idea to host a Seed Swap event on 2nd April. We’d like to get growers and gardeners in Westray together to exchange seeds and cuttings, and share their experiences of what’s worked for them. We hope to open up the Community Garden and folk can come down, ask us some questions or give us their thoughts on the Garden Project. We are planning to get some teas, coffees and bakes on the day and make it a nice event for all. Keep your eyes peeled for more information nearer the time. 

Extra Mobile Library Van Visits

We are pleased to announce that WDT has agreed to fund an extra 4x visits from the Orkney Mobile Library van in 2022 in addition to the normal timetable. This means the library van will visit Westray monthly. The extra dates are 13th April, 8th June, 28th September, and 23rd November 2022. 

Grants Awarded

We haven’t had as many grant applications in this month, just one Education and Training Grant to assist with the cost of an individual to attend a first aid course.

We expect the kids will still be coming down from the Youth Groups’ Inflatables weekend and we are excited to welcome the Regional Screen Machine to the island again, both events have been part-funded through our Entertainment Grant Scheme.

The next meeting of the Project Evaluation Group (PEG) will be at the end of June 2022 so there is plenty of time to get together Community Grant applications ready. These can be for as little as £50 or as much as £50,000 and can be for a wide range of projects. Please get in touch with the office if you have any questions about the process of putting in a grant application, we would be happy to talk you through it.

Turbine Figures

The community turbine generated 437MWh during February 2022 which gave an income of just under £42,806. The average generation for the month of February is 353MWh so we were way above average for this time of year.