Council to take on Gorebridge Beacon?

The construction of the new Gorebridge Community Hub on Hunterfield Road 22/1/18
The construction of the new Gorebridge Community Hub on Hunterfield Road 22/1/18

The group behind the under construction Gorebridge Beacon is remaining positive despite Midlothian Council admitting it could take over the community hub project.

Gorebreidge Community Development Trust (GCDT) lost an undisclosed Big Lottery grant last year which was intended to cover start-up costs to run the Beacon for the first two years.

Construction of the new Gorebridge Community Hub on Hunterfield Road is due to be completed this coming summer.

Construction of the new Gorebridge Community Hub on Hunterfield Road is due to be completed this coming summer.

This led to rumours that Midlothian Council would have to step in and run the community hub when it opens this summer. This follows similar community-run projects running into difficulty including Penicuik Storehouse and The Kabin in Loanhead.

The cabinet member for communities and economy, Councillor Russell Imrie said: “We’ve set up a ‘think tank’ to explore all opportunities to ensure the Beacon has a viable future. One of the options is the building being run by others. We continue to work closely with the trust on this issue and a decision will be made as quickly as we can.”

When pressed on whether “others” included the council, a spokesman confirmed that one option would be for the local authority to take over.

Despite this, Jane Burridge of GCDT, is remaining upbeat. She said: “We are back on site and the building work is following the programme. So it’s good to pass on the positive news that the project is back on track.

“We had put in an application for start-up funds that was turned down. That could have easily been because of the fire. So we are now back in the position of applying for funding. We have got a business plan which shows that the building is financially sustainable after two years. So as with any project we need financial support to get it going.

“We are not in any different position to what we were in this time last year. If unsuccessful seeking this funding then we would have to look at other ways to run the building.

“But all the funding already raised was to provide a building for the community run by the community, and that’s still what we intend to do.”

The trust is refusing to let last year’s fire dent plans. Jane added: “It has been a long process with insurance companies because its very complicated. The investigation they needed to carry out took quite a long period of time but we are hoping to get the building open later this year.

“We are working with the funders, including the council, just looking at the options for getting the building open.

“The current position is that we are seeking funding. We have an application in just now. It’s similar money to what we were looking for last summer.”

The trust has also been encouraged by the success of the pop-up Beacon at the former Bank of Scotland branch on Main Street.“We did that very quickly after the fire and it has been very successfully used by a lot of community groups and organisations,” said Jane.

“That’s reinforced that there is demand and need for these services in Gorebridge. The great thing is that it has been that stop gap so people have been able to take advantage. And the bank haven’t charged anything. It will continue to run, we hope, until we open the Beacon.”