THE STORY SO FAR…
For some time community members have been in dialogue with the Church of Scotland, concerned that we might lose this vital community resource. Once it became clear the sale of Bellfield would proceed, we called a meeting in April 2016. More than 75 people attended, and at the end of the meeting those present unanimously voted to establish Friends of Bellfield to retain this vital asset for the community.
Two processes were instigated: (1) a Community Right to Buy (CRtB) process to ensure the community has first right to buy the buildings a market prices, and (2) securing funds from the Scottish Land Fund (SLF) firstly to enable us enable us bring in the expertise we need, and secondly to then apply for over 80% of the purchase price.
To meet the legal requirements and to facilitate the process, Action Porty was created as a company limited by guarantee, and it welcomes full membership from all voters in Portobello, junior membership from those under 16, and associate membership from those outwith Portobello. We quickly secured over £16,000 from SLF to hire consultants, architects and business experts to hep us assess community needs and the business case, and to develop strong plans.
In September 2016 we became the first urban community in Scotland to successfully register our CRtB application. This required the completion of all the paperwork, as well as over 40 volunteers going door to door to secure the minimum 10% backing from the electorate for this venture. In a matter of weeks, and by the deadline, we managed to secure the backing of 1,500 voters (over 25% of voters in Portobello). In the end we had only four days to recruit members of Action Porty before submission, during which time 315 people signed up.
The community has been incredibly supportive, with over £2,000 raised in one night in an August Bellfield cabaret, and with almost 200 people joining us upstairs in the library in September to feedback their ideas and responses to the initial architects drawings and options appraisal. We want as many people in Portobello as possible to join Action Porty and be part of the process going forward. Our first public meeting will be in November. We will post details here as well as on our facebook and twitter pages.
Please come and make your voice heard, and meanwhile do join Action Porty and let us know what you want Bellfield to become.
We have been consulting widely on what Bellfield might become, as you can find out on the news pages of the site.