Quarry feasibility study

Initial investigations have now been completed and  have shown that re-opening the Rapness Quarry is unlikely to be viable, mostly because of the poor quality of the stone and the large amount of waste (up to 1/3 of stone blasted will end up as waste, and even the good stuff isn’t very suitable for concrete).   WDT will therefore start investigating whether there are other potential sites on Westray that could be opened or reopened and provide better quality stone.   If you can help with this (know of any quarries that might fit this) please let us know.

Westray Processors feasibility study

WP and WDT have now appointed a consultant to carry out the business review and feasibility study at Westray Processors.  Colin Clark has already made his first visit to Westray.  We expect to get the results of this study back soon.

3 years of the CDO

The HIE funding that has contributed to staff wages for 3 years comes to an end in September 2013, and all the CDOs have been asked what they consider their top achievements are.   The list from Corinne includes:

–          At least £69,500 additional grant funding brought into Westray through applications written by the CDO for WDT and several other community groups

–          doing the groundwork with DSL to set up the successful loan management partnership;

–          being part of the process of the trust obtaining Unit 1;

–          contributing strongly to improving the communications with the community through the website and Whats on contributions (which started with a very small CDO column)

–          keeping focussed on the need to be accountable with PEG and grant processes

–          More recently, my continued liaison with Orkney College has helped WDT get things moving in the Learning Centre (including the promise of new computers from Orkney College!)

–          as the “strategy” person for the inter-isles broadband group I have been able to arrange meetings at high level with people involved in Broadband Development UK in the HIE area to keep the focus on excellent broadband for all – not just the easiest 86%.

–          Its also an achievement to have successfully completed 7 core modules of Sustainable Development Study and an ILA level 5 Leadership certificate over the three years, while seldom being able to take the full allowed amount of study time.

Quarry project update

There has been a lot more work on this feasibility study.   Someone from the council planning department has been out for a site visit to advise on planning requirements, and a surveyor and a contractor have also done site visits.

Applications for tender have now been sent to three companies to gauge interest in providing the blasting and crushing service to Westray and to also see if the project will be viable.  Further information to follow.


Loan Management

Following on from the success of our first loan, some of the Board with Janice and Corinne had a videoconference meeting with the organisation handling the loan, Developing Strathclyde Ltd , a community development finance association.   The meeting was very successful in going over the processes of the first loan and establishing which areas need to be improved to streamline the process.  The board have been very pleased with the way DSL staff have looked after the trust’s interests and ensured community funds are used wisely.

Refrigeration equipment and maintenance

Westray Processors have been awarded £2500 towards the costs of purchasing tools and equipment to allow their newly qualified engineer to carry out refrigeration engineering.  Having a qualified engineer on the island will be of great benefit to those businesses that require refrigeration repairs and maintenance.

“New Venture” for Westray

The trust are pleased to announce that they have offered a loan of £60,000 to two young fishermen to help them take ownership of their first fishing boat (the refurbished “Kelly T”, which will be renamed “New Venture”).  The loan is being adminstered by trust partners Developing Strathclyde Ltd (DSL-Business Finance) as they are a community development finance association with the expertise to manage loans.  This loan is part of a programme of “community regeneration”, as it not only provides secure employment for young folk to remain on Westray, but will also provide catch for the Westray Processors crab processing factory.  With many of the local fishing boat owners approaching retirement, it was important to encourage young people into the industry.

Next Generation Internet Access

Currently only around 40% of Westray houses are able to be offered a 2 mbs broadband service (considered a baseline for todays internet needs), with many areas of Westray where speeds are unacceptably slow, and frequent drop-outs of service even in “good” areas.

With the push from the UK and Scottish Governments to implement a new superfast Internet highway that utilises the Next Generation Access (NGA) broadband technology we want to make sure Westray has the best opportunities for getting the same level of service as everywhere else, which in our remote community means we have to take some initiative ourselves.

Its exciting to see other projects where communities have installed their own fibreoptic cable, or are running their own telecoms companies, and doing it all for the same kind of ongoing cost as traditional service providers.

Westray has got together with two other Isles development trusts to investigate what really is possible here. An initial feasibility study is now underway (mid October 2012) to see if fibreoptic cable laying really is an option, whether working in partnership with other isles will give an economy of scale to make it financially viable, and whether community ownership or management of any part of internet services would be appropriate. With the results of the study to hand we will be in a good position to put in a bid to the new £5 million Community Broadband Fund to make it all happen, as well as being able to share what we learn with other isles.

The Westray Conference – 2nd to 4th October 1998

From 2nd to 4th October 1998, Westray played host to a major conference in which the future of the island was discussed.  The background was the falling population of the islands, decreasing numbers of jobs available to school leavers, and the falling roll of the school.  The conference looked at new ways of harnessing local talents, developing new businesses, and providing a place where people wanted to stay and work.  A large team was involved from the planning and organising right through to the actual event itself.  Nearly 100 delegates from outside Westray gave of their time, experience and expertise, contributing to workshops and as keynote speakers and there was a huge response from the local community.  The opening session on the Friday evening attracted over 350 people.  During the day, the school held a series of events including a full School Conference with 45 pupils attending.  Workshops throughout the weekend included: Residential Home/Westray Care Centre; Transport; Fisheries and Aquaculture; Tourism; Arts, Crafts and Knitwear; Agriculture; Education and Training; Information Technology; Industry and Business start-up; Youth and Children; Voluntary sector; Papa Westray Housing.

When the dust settled on this memorable weekend, there remained a feeling of optimism on the island, as the hard work began.  There was a strong sense of resolve within the community to work together and see many of the ideas generated at the conference come to fruition.   The Westray Development Trust was formed, and the first local development plan agreed and published.