Ordinary Scots are showing they are the real champions of change - Alison Campsie

There is a boarded-up hotel in my home town and each year, it fades a little more.

Its heyday was a little before my time, but it was the place where you would go for a disco on a Saturday and a high-tea on Sunday, with memories of the place woven into the fabric of the town for many.

Today, it stands ever more precarious as the passing of time does it work. From its prominent corner spot, it emits a slow decay, further sapping a high street already fighting to survive.

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There is unlikely many with money to take on such a big revival project, but perhaps a greater power could save this place. Recently, there have been some extremely inspiring tales of communities who have brought vision and hard commitment to the places they live and love.

The people of Tweedsmuir have spent 16 years saving their 17th Century country pub, The Crook Inn. PIC: Contributed.
The people of Tweedsmuir have spent 16 years saving their 17th Century country pub, The Crook Inn. PIC: Contributed.

In the same town, Montrose, the old council swimming pool is soon to open as a cinema thanks to the efforts of a very honourable team.

In the Borders, the people of Tweedsmuir have spent 16 years saving their country pub, The Crook Inn, from property developers.

It’s been a rollercoaster, they say, but they have now – after many late nights of funding applications and free hours of work – broken ground on the site where they will develop a bistro and then a bunkhouse to fund the boozer. Absolute hats off to them and their continued belief in the need for places where people can come together and welcome others.

On Skye, residents have officially opened a car park and toilets to cope with the soaring number of visitors heading to the Fairy Pools. Money raised from the car park, bought from Forestry and Land Scotland through Community Asset Transfer, will now fund other projects, such as research into affordable housing. True innovation.

In Sutherland, there is a will to take over the remains of a Clearance village and promote its past while repopulating the nearby forest with a small number of crofts. If there was ever a statement of recalibrating the land and looking to the future, this has to be it.

Of course, community takeovers of land and buildings using public funds is not new, with political will underpinning policy and available finance. But away from the white heat of politics, communities are taking decisions, emboldening themselves and making good things that matter happen.

As we look to the future past Covid, when our lives are reshaped by new priorities and much of the old way of doing things asks for a rethink, it makes you wonder just what you could do.

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