Page last updated at 09:48 GMT, Tuesday, 10 June 2008 10:48 UK

Village 'hub' gets lottery boost

Generic picture of a primary school class
The school will lease the centre for its weekly assembly and PE sessions

Plans to create a community "hub" for a string of small villages in the Borders have secured a 1m lottery grant.

Newlands Community Development Trust wants to build a 1.9m community centre attached to Newlands Primary at Romanno Bridge near Peebles.

Residents in nearby villages will also benefit from the centre including a sports hall, nursery and IT facilities.

The site would be leased by the school and ensure its long-term future after previously being earmarked for closure.

NCDT was created in 2005 when Scottish Borders Council threatened to shut the 80-pupil school and merge it with West Linton Primary.

Isolation in rural communities is a real problem
Karen Blissitt

That recommendation was subsequently withdrawn but the campaign has continued to turn the school into a meeting place for the surrounding community.

The grant is the largest ever awarded in the Scottish Borders by the Big Lottery Fund.

Campaigners have said it is a major step towards their target but work remains to be done.

NCDT chairwoman Karen Blissitt said: "This is a fabulous boost for the community.

"The hub will provide a much-needed local facility which will strengthen the community and help bring everyone together."

She said locals currently had to make a 20-mile round trip to reach sporting facilities or hold community events such as concerts.

'Steady decline'

"Isolation in rural communities is a real problem and this will make it easier for people to get involved in local activities and get to know each other," she added.

The project will also create employment opportunities for two members of staff to manage the facility, as well as creating other posts through its childcare and catering facilities.

Alison Magee, the chairwoman of the Big Lottery Fund in Scotland, said: "There are many rural communities across Scotland which have seen a steady decline in these types of facilities.

"So I am delighted that we are able to support the NCDT to bring new social, sporting and employment opportunities to the area."

School buy-out bid hits trouble
18 Jan 08 |  South of Scotland
Cost of saving rural school rises
29 Mar 06 |  Scotland
Parents in 1m vow to save school
18 Feb 05 |  Scotland

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