Villagers hoping to organise a community takeover of Yetholm’s general store have been given an £11,000 boost.
The village store and post office was put up for sale by its owners of seven years, Roy and Barbara Maltby, at the end of last year.
And in August a steering group was formed with the aim of buying it to run as a community organisation.
Now, just four months on, it’s taken a leap forward, having been given £11,090 from the Scottish Land Fund, to pay for advisers to create a business plan and carry out a survey and valuation of the shop.
Steering group member Alastair Hirst said: “This is great news for the people of Yetholm and surrounding areas.
“The shop is a vital village asset and is used by all sections of the community.
“We have had outstanding support so far and want to thank everyone who has shared their views and expertise.
“Everyone will now be working to ensure the future of the shop for the village.”
Once a business plan is approved, a further grant application will be made to the fund – a Scottish Government programme supporting community bids to take over ownership of buildings, land or assets – for the money needed to buy the Main Street building.
“Before the next application can be made, there are a number of vitally important steps to be taken by the project,” Mr Hirst added.
“These include drawing on great local skills and experience of Yetholm people, assessing the options for additional and complementary activities to strengthen the financial position of the shop in a changing and challenging retail market and ensuring the widest possible community engagement and participation.
“It’s planned to have another village meeting in the near future and, provided the business plan is agreed by the village, to make the application to the Scottish Land Fund for stage-two funding next year.”
Other sources of funding for the purchase and development of the shop will be needed too, though, and there are plans afoot to launch a community shares initiative, like one being tried out in Oxton.
The store would be run as a community benefit society owned by the whole village, and it would be responsible for overseeing its day-to-day operation.
The initial members of the management committee, besides Mr Hirst, are Susan Stewart, Graeme Wallace and John Stobart.
The shop, employing six part-time staff, was put on the market last year.