The loss of the local store or post office can spell disaster for a rural community. Nonetheless, the temptations of lower prices or more choice online can lure even the most committed local shopper. But if the shop becomes owned by the whole community, shopping elsewhere becomes much less attractive. And that’s what the folk of South Cowal are hoping for. With just a few days left to hit their £60,000 community share target, this will be the first community share offer in Scotland in which every child in the area is to become a shareholder.
Thanks to the generosity of two local businesses, the community of South Cowal will be the first in Scotland to gift a Community Share to all of the children in its area.
South Cowal Community Enterprises (SCCE) is running a Community Share Offer to save its local shop and Post Office, The Lido, from closure. £256,680 has already been raised for the buyout and the community is now trying to bring in a further £60,000 through Community Shares. If successful, SCCE also plans to open a bunkhouse aimed at walkers, cyclists and kayakers in the space above the shop.
Local businesses, Stewart & Bennett and BC technologies, have gifted £1,800 to buy Shares for all 180 children in the area under the age of 16.
Linsay Chalmers, Chair of SCCE, which is leading the buyout, said “we want South Cowal to be a brilliant place to grow up. Now, as well as having two great primary schools and a fantastic outdoor lifestyle, children will become part-owners in their local community shop. We are delighted that two local businesses have made this possible”.
Euan Macdonald, Sole Principal of Stewart & Bennett said: “This initiative sends a positive message to young people that it’s up to all of us to improve our own community.”
Brendon Wallace, Managing Partner of BC technologies said “this is an excellent opportunity for the community to get behind this project. I’m delighted to be able to support this project with such a unique and fantastic idea that provides all the local children with a share in The Lido. The amount of work and effort that has been put in by the local community group is outstanding and they should all be incredibly proud of what they have achieved”.
Brendon and Euan are also involved in the Dunoon Project, which plans to develop a major community-owned outdoor activities resort in Dunoon and South Cowal.
Extensive community engagement carried out in 2018 showed that 98% of people in the South Cowal wanted the shop to stay open and 64% of people thought that it would be a disaster for the community if The Lido closed. Local children were involved in the consultation process and came up with lots of great ideas for the shop. Linsay Chalmers said “we have had some fantastic ideas from local primary children about what we could stock such as fresh fruit and veg, toys and more vegan food, although we might not take up their suggestion to slime all of our customers!”