Grant helps to secure future of town hall

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A major step has been taken towards converting Eyemouth Town Hall and the adjacent Burgh Chamber building into a social eco-innovation centre.

An £82,500 Scottish Land Fund grant means that Eyemouth and District Community Trust is now in a position to buy the B-listed building and convert it into a learning and training space, a social enterprise training kitchen, an IT resource centre, office space for new businesses and space for local community activity

Sina Anderson, of the trust, said: “We are delighted to receive this generous award from Scottish Land Fund.

“This funding will enable us to proceed with the proposed Eyemouth social innovation centre, a project set right in the centre of Eyemouth, supporting the regeneration of the town and bringing a much-loved building back into community use.

“While the community has always been keen to retain the old burgh chambers and town hall as a community space, now with the conversion to a multi-use space, it will give added benefit to the town.

“Eyemouth until recent times was one of the largest fishing ports in the whole of Scotland but now needs to look to other opportunities to sustain the town.

“This project will address the need for a variety of training, office space and business support in an effort to encourage young people to stay in the town, offer retraining, as well as attracting new businesses and start-ups to provide employment.”

Fund committee chairman John Watt said: “This is an important Scottish Land Fund award that will help the people of Eyemouth embark on an exciting journey of community ownership.

“This project will bring tremendous benefits by helping to increase skills, opportunities and training for local people, as well as encouraging innovation and helping new and emerging businesses to flourish.”

Sandra Holmes, Highlands and Islands Enterprise’s sector lead for community assets, said: “Eyemouth and District Community Trust have worked really hard to make their community ambition a reality, and I’m glad they were able to secure funding from the Scottish Land Fund to achieve this. It will be great to see the benefits the proposed centre will have on the wider community.”

The trust is waiting to hear the outcome of a Big Lottery application to help with the work, and a planning application for partial demolition of the town hall has been submitted to Scottish Borders Council.

Back in 2008, Eyemouth Town Hall was described by a council officer as “the worst building on our books”, but now it is well on its way to being one of the most innovative spaces in the Borders.