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Election / Plenty of community projects in Sandwick, development group reminds election candidate

A COMMUNITY development group in Sandwick has responded to claims by an election candidate that the Shetland South ward is “being left behind” when it comes to community funded projects.

Independent candidate Stewart Douglas said the ward should look to community councils such as Scalloway and Northmavine “who are attracting funding for community projects” as a result of having “shovel ready” projects.

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But two trustees of the Sandwick Social and Economic Development SCIO (SSED) have pointed to the significant projects which have attracted funding in the area in recent years.

Rosemary Inkster and Neville Martin said in a letter to Shetland News that this “significant fundraising, investment, and voluntary effort is something to celebrate and does not reflect a community which has been ‘left behind’”.

Plenty going on in Sandwick

They pointed out that the SSED “has a considerable track record of delivering large capital projects, and we currently have a significant infrastructure project in the development stage”.

“This work is all done in partnership with the relevant statutory services and with the support of the Sandwick Community Council,” the pair added.

In the years from 2002 to 2019 there were 27 applications for grants for infrastructure projects in the area – not including the many small grants for £2,000 or less.

“The total secured during that period amounted to £2,242,500 – at today’s prices that is equivalent to £3 – £4 million,” the trustees said.

Since then, there have been further projects which have secured funding, from a South Mainland Up Helly Aa galley shed to improvements to the Carnegie Hall, the Sandwick youth and community centre and the village’s social club.

The trustees also pointed to Hoswick Visitor Centre, which is the base for SSED and was bought by the community. It has attracted significant funding over the years.

They also mentioned the Hoswick playpark, and the nearby cycle path, which secured £53,000 in funding.

“Financial benefit for the community is the continuing major aim for SSED,” Inkster and Martin wrote.

“Changes in our society, resulting from the pandemic means that a higher priority for increased social impact is now recognised by the trustees, staff and volunteers together with the community, agencies, external funders, and local funders, including Dunrossness Community Council.

“Several schemes supporting vulnerable people from Sandwick and in Dunrossness, are managed by SSED, again supported by local and external funders.”

“Mr Douglas suggests projects could be ‘voted on by the local communities’, which is a great idea and has already taken place at the South Shetland Decides participatory budgeting events in the Sandwick Social Club and Cunningsburgh Hall,” the trustees added.

“We invite Mr Douglas to contact any of the organisations mentioned above to find out more about these projects.”