Action Porty Secures £570,000 towards the purchase price

We are delighted to announce that Action Porty’s application to the Scottish Land Fund has been successful
The Scottish Land Fund Committee have approved a grant of £647,500 which includes a sum of up to £570,000 towards the purchase of the church and halls – the final figure will depend on the outcome of the independent valuation process, which has been commissioned by the Scottish Government.
The final part of the Community Right to Buy process will involve a ballot of Portobello residents (also commissioned by the Scottish Government) which will happen towards the end of March. All voters within the area of Portobello that Action Porty currently covers will receive a letter from Electoral Reform Services in the post, probably in the last week of March. Please make sure you return it immediately so that your vote can be included in the count!
Look out for an envelope with this logo!
The story of our successful award from the Scottish Land Fund was carried by the Evening News, the BBC and Commonspace, to name but a few.
Land Reform Secretary, Roseanna Cunningham MSP said: “Groups such as Action Porty, who are looking to acquire former Portobello Old Parish Church and halls in Edinburgh, and the Copperworks Housing Association Ltd, who will revitalise the urban landscape of Royston, are great examples of how the Scottish Government’s land reform agenda can give communities the power to make a real difference.
John Watt, chairman of the Scottish Land Fund Committee, said: “Today’s award to Action Porty is a great example of what can be achieved now that the opportunity for community ownership has been extended to all parts of Scotland. This project has the potential to protect and enhance an important community facility, run for and by local people in Portobello. The funding marks a significant milestone for the group and I wish them every success as they go on to pursue their ambitions of purchasing and developing this local asset.”
Justin Kenrick, Action Porty chair, said “With the community fully behind this initiative to save Bellfield Old Parish Church and halls, Action Porty is now absolutely delighted to receive this crucial support from the Scottish Land Fund. As the population of Portobello grows while community resources vanish, this is a critical step in our efforts to ensure that we retain and develop fully accessible, affordable, community spaces that can enable our community to flourish in these changing times. We hope that all other communities will do the same, and will also get the support they deserve.”

Update!

120 people recently attended a Public Meeting which we organised to enable local people hear how our plans are progressing, and particularly to hear the thoughts and conclusions from our consultancy team. There were a number of good questions asked and useful comments made – and these have been reflected within the consultant’s final Options Report. Reassuringly, there seemed to be almost universal support for our vision and plans for Bellfield. A big thanks to Portobello and Joppa Church for hosting the meeting! The Final Report from our consultancy team should be available soon. Meanwhile, David Calder’s Porty Podcast has a quick overview.

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The General Trustees of the Church of Scotland have been in touch to let us know that they will be ‘triggering’ the Community Right To Buy process. Once this happens, we will effectively have 8 months to raise the money and complete the acquisition of Bellfield. The Scottish Government Minister will now appoint the District Auditor to come up with an independent valuation of the property, and the next stage of the process is likely to involve a postal ballot of people in Portobello to test the level of local support. We will be in touch with everyone in due course, once the ballot arrangements are clear.

Action Porty has now submitted our stage 2 application to the Scottish Land Fund. If this application is successful (we should find out the outcome in mid-January) then this should provide funding of between 85% and 95% of the cost of purchasing Bellfield. We have recently appointed Hazel Allen to help us develop a full business plan for the project. This includes projected timescales on when we are likely to be able re-open Bellfield and how the various development work to the property will be phased over a number of years.

Finally, it you are looking for stocking fillers for Christmas, we have lovely ‘Save Bellfield’ mugs and prints for sale. The design was gifted by Andy Siddall and the mugs & prints are available exclusively at Cove on  Porty High Street.

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Public Meeting!

The campaign to take Bellfield into community ownership has now reached another important milestone, and we are hosting a public event to share progress and gather feedback on the way we propose to take the project forward. We would therefore like to extend an invitation to you to join us on Tuesday 15th of November at 7.00pm in Portobello and Joppa Parish Church (formerly St Phillips).

The public event will present an opportunity for you to hear about our general efforts to acquire, develop and run Bellfield on behalf of the community (some of you may have seen the recent press coverage of the Scottish Government’s endorsement of our Community Right to Buy application) and we will also take this opportunity to set out the next key steps in the process. We also plan to use the meeting on the 15th to formally launch Action Porty, the community-controlled company we have established to acquire Bellfield.

Sign up today so we know how many folk are coming.