A key report on how village life could be improved in Avonbridge and Standburn was published back in September - but the real action starts now.
Consultants hired by a working party set up by the local community council have come up with a large wish list of schemes reckoned likely to benefit local residents and the area generally.
But - crucially - it’s up to the community to put the plans into action.
The outline plans are underpinned by the gain to be derived from the EDF-ER Burnhead Moss Wind Farm Community Benefit Fund, which will provide around £35,000 per year (rising in
line with inflation) to the Avonbridge and Standburn area until at least 2036.
The existence of guaranteed hard cash from the fund can also be used to lever resources from other funding bodies, with the potential to bring genuine improvements to both communities.
At a time of economic austerity and heavily trimmed local authority budgets this is seen as a local benefit that must be used to full advantage.
Around 1,335 people (of which half are in Avonbridge) stand to gain from enterprising initiatives that could make best use of the wind farm cash, and January will be the effective start point for positive moves that could prove transformational.
It’s not a straightforward process, however, as the consultants’ report makes clear that despite the small population there are sharp differences in the perceived needs of areas just a few minutes’ walk apart.
Local consensus on improvements likely to prove most useful could prove pivotal to particular ideas being taken on board.
The report highlights main concerns of these rural communities as including poor public transport, sub-standard broadband speed and even lack of mains gas supply.
But at a time when (it says) Falkirk Council can’t be relied upon to solve every problem real improvements - assisted by wind farm cash - will have to be developed by and for local people themselves.
Ideas which could be developed further include staging a sustained blitz on fly tipping, improving Standburn Park (said to “urgently” need new volunteers and trustees), a community upgrade of Avonbridge War Memorial, opening a community garden at Bridgehill, and launching a village tidy-up campaign.
Numerous ways in which the River Avon Heritage Trail could be improved are suggested, while the community hall and Drumbowie Primary School are flagged as prime candidates for activities likely to improve community life.
Improvements to public paths, festive lights and an upgrade of Standburn playpark could also be potential future projects.
A longer term plan. meanwhile, could be the development of public access to Lin Falls.
A representative of Avonbridge and Standburn Community Council said: “Every household has received a leaflet explaining the main points of the consultants’ report, and outlining the various ideas that have come forward for bringing about real improvements.
“But now we need to see local people forming project groups and taking things forward, because it is not ‘the community council’s plan’ - on the contrary it’s for local residents to take the initiative.”
This will mean existing groups collaborating and sharing resources, but you don’t need to be in an organisation to come forward with ideas of your own - everybody, including friends, family and neighbours, is welcome to get involved.