During late 2017 the Trust developed a funding proposal to LEADER to allow us to contract in a part-time tourism and economic development officer. The project arose out of recognition of the need to improve the business environment particularly in Aberfoyle Main Street, and the need to help local businesses capitalise on Strathard’s outstanding tourism potential.
LEADER funding (£54,881) was granted in December 2017; the project plan and milestones were further refined during Spring 2018 and a tender was put out. Interviews were held in May and the contract was awarded in June. The successful candidate was Vis-à-vis Agency (Karen Shaw, Tracey Kelly and their associate Callum Christie).
Vis-à-vis commenced work on the project in June and have made a good start, presenting their first Project report at the Steering Group meeting on 23rd August.
Initial work has concentrated on assessing the proposed project outputs, creating a project timeline, meeting key stakeholders, community members and business owners. Vis-à-vis also assisted in the delivery of the ‘Big Bike Revival’ event in Aberfoyle in July which, as well as being a successful event, helped to reinforce the need for improved signage and interpretation as part of the wider project.
With regard to the development of walking and cycling routes, the suggestion from Vis-à-Vis is that the initial focus should be on routes starting in Aberfoyle and the promotion/ development of short all-ability, family friendly routes including the Rabbit Hill Nature Trail, the Doon Hill Loop and the tarred section of NCN 7, starting at the car park.
FCS noted (at the meeting on 23rd August) that their visitor feedback indicated a facility gap for short, easily accessible routes and it was agreed that the project would initially focus on this.
Stirling Council has agreed to provide ‘starter cash’ for the project to bridge the gap between payment of the first invoice and receipt of the first installment of LEADER funding. This starter cash is a short-term, interest-free loan which will be repaid at the end of the project, upon receipt of the final installment of LEADER funding.