Pub is The Hub, the rural pubs champion yesterday launched its rural services projects initiative in partnership with Scottish Borders Council where it was announced that Scottish Government would also back the scheme with a £30,000 funding boost.
Over 60 pub operators, suppliers and local authority representatives attended the launch event in Lauder which began with a video announcement from Richard Lochhead, Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs, Food and Environment, about the funding.
Also speaking at the event was Stuart Bell, portfolio holder for Economic Development at Scottish Borders Council who talked about the fragile structure of communities and that pubs can be the glue that holds them together. He urged rural communities to: “Make your pub the hub. This is a pilot – go out and grab it.”
Pub is The Hub is a not-for-profit organisation which, in turn, has supported hundreds of pub licensees and communities in diversifying their businesses since its inception in 2001 by HRH The Prince of Wales. Scottish pub owners and operators in the Borders will be able to apply for grants of up to £4,000 towards diversification schemes to improve local services.
Representatives from the Pub is The Hub team were also at the event to showcase advice, support and funding opportunities for pub operators and owners who are considering a diversification scheme to improve and support rural services. Examples of such schemes include siting post offices, shops, libraries, internet cafes, allotment schemes, school dinners, cash point machines, IT training and community cinemas in pubs.
Sarah McClean (featured in the main picture), a licensee from The Plough in Leitholm near Coldstream was at the event and could be one of the first pubs to take part in a diversification scheme in this new initiative. She welcomed the attention being paid to the Borders region and was impressed with the range of ideas and support available.
Richard Lochhead said: “Pubs are often at the heart of rural communities and in some places are the only outlet left in the village. This scheme is a great way for businesses, the public sector and communities to work together to provide viable local services which contribute to the social fabric and economy of rural Scotland. That is why I am pleased to confirm the Scottish Government is providing £30,000 support for the Scottish Borders Pub is The Hub pilot.”
Chief Executive of Pub is The Hub, John Longden, said: “We are pleased that the Scottish Borders are ready to take the plunge with us and delighted that Scottish Government is supporting the scheme with some essential funding to give licensees the impetus to ‘have a go’. We are also grateful to the ever-present support of the Prince’s Countryside Fund and Diageo in all our major projects.”
Also present were Paul Waterson CEO of the SLTA and Willie McLeod CEO of the BHA Scotland.
Pub is The Hub has engaged the support of Gordon Izatt, an experienced advisor in licensed hospitality, to act as the advisor for Scotland and he will be the local point of contact and advice for licensees undertaking any schemes. In the meantime, anyone interested in finding out more can call the office on 01 423 546165 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.