Tourism is top priority say Fraserburgh folk

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An engagement meeting at the Lighthouse Museum last Thursday sparked the Broch community into action.

Those in attendance at the meeting prioritised tourism and supporting small fisheriess to help sustain development.

The meeting hosted by Aberdeenshire Council was held to prioritise key areas for the Fraserburgh community in order open up a windfall fund for sustainable development in Aberdeenshire fishing communities.

The meeting featured representatives from Fraserburgh Community Council, Aberdeenshire Council, businesses as well as the fishing industry.

At the meeting those in attendance were given a presentation of the Aberdeenshire European Fisheries Fund (EFF) Axis 4.

EFF Axis 4 is an area-based programme to support sustainable development through a ‘bottom-up’ approach.

The £1.2million allocated by Marine Scotland will require matched funding by the public sector. It is thought that much of the match funding required will draw upon council and other programmes already approved or in preparation such as Regeneration Priority Zones.

Public sector partners could include organisations such as Scottish Entreprise, Scottish Natural Heritage, the Coastal Communities Fund and the National Lottery. At the meeting, the local community was encouraged to submit its views on the strategic priorities to enable Aberdeenshire Council to submit a strategy to Marine Scotland. Community-driven projects being encouraged were local harbours, tourism, and food and drink.

The room was split into three discussion groups to determine what the community would prioritise for the strategy to take to the Scottish Government.

Of the eight strategic points at the meeting, the Fraserburgh community highlighted supporting small fisheries and tourism-related infrastructure and services for small communties.

This would include services for older residents, tourist information points and signposing, marketing and tourist attractions.

As well as this restructuring and redirecting, economic activites was also set as a priority at the meeting which included looking into the fisheries museum, pleasure cruises, wildlife excursions and attracting new businesses.

One attendee said: “More people would visit if they knew what we had in the area. There is a lot of untapped potential here.”

The meeting was presented by Belinda Miller, head of economic development at Aberdeenshire Council, along with Derek McDonald rural and Maritime Industries Development officer.

Belinda told the Herald: “We are here today to ensure that fisheries communities have access to a £1.2m fund by the European Fisheries fund.”

Chairman of Aberdeenshire Council’s Infrastructure Services Committee Peter Argyle said: “Their views will then be incorporated into the strategy, which will define which types of projects are most likely to be supported when it launches towards the end of this year.

“Budgets will be confirmed by Marine Scotland during October.

“It is anticipated FLAGs (Fisheries Local Action Groups) will become operational and consider project applications in November.”

The timescale for Axis 4 is for Aberdeenshire Council to submit a strategy to Marine Scotland by September 9 this year with notification coming at the end of October.

Fisheries Local Action groups (FLAGs) which will be managing the programme will then open in November with all funds from the European Fisheries Fund being committeed by Decemeber 2013, there will then be a drawdown allowed until the middle of 2015.

The programme will be managed by Fisheries Local Action Groups (FLAGs) which will represent the fisheries areas and implement an Axis 4 local development strategy for their area once it has been agreed.

FLAGs will be a partnership between the public, private and civic sectors and will produce a Local Fisheries Development Strategy (LFDS) and will assess and approve applications for funding under the project.