AMBITIOUS Borders residents are aiming to buy their local village green.
The plans have been drawn up by the Newstead Village Community Trust (NVCT), which hopes to revitalise the green space on the corner of Eddy Road and Main Street.
The trust’s membership secretary, Isobel King, said: “This has been a challenging year in which to launch the NVCT, but the response from everyone has been tremendous.”
The NVCT grew out of social media groups set up to help the community during lockdown caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
Mark Lovatt, the trust’s chairman, said: “It came about as a result of a need for improved networking to support people in the community through pandemic.
“NVCT is about improving the quality of life for those living in Newstead, protecting and enhancing the environment for the community, preserving the unique historical and cultural significance of Newstead, developing partnerships with other local organisations (such as Melrose pathways and Trimontium Trust), and giving the community a powerful ‘voice’ in the decisions which affect us.”
He added: “It’s a not-for-profit company. This means all funds are used for the benefit of the community.
“The NVCT is also applying for charitable status to help the village access even more opportunities and support.
“It’s all run by a board of volunteer directors where there’s currently six of us. We work on behalf of the community.
“NVCT members have the power to re-elect or reject us, and stand for election themselves, when the first AGM comes around.
“We’re accountable to the membership who are ultimately in charge.”
The NVCT has 71 members, according to Mr Lovatt, in addition to 16 associate members and two junior members.
“It’s great to have the oldest and the youngest in our community as members,” Mr Lovatt said.
He added there has been “overwhelming support” for the plans to buy the village green.
“I think people increasingly recognise the value of outside space as areas they can meet safely,” said Mr Lovatt.
“This land, by the way, sits on the corner of Eddy Road and Main Street which sits at a natural crossroads in the village and also at a historical ‘crossroads’.
“[There are] also some really great ideas for bigger projects – [from] establishing a community orchard to the possibility of a community allotment and renewable energy projects.”
Encouraging other Borders residents to start similar initiatives, Mr Lovatt said: “I would say go for it.
“There are plenty of examples of communities taking their futures into their own hands and lots of interest in preserving community space for the wellbeing of residents – from exercise to social space to meet up, to community garden/allotment projects etc.
“Have a look at what communities on Arisaig have achieved and the Ettrick and Yarrow Community Development Company have done and look on DTAS (Development Trusts Association Scotland) website.
“It’s really inspiring.”