THE future of a group set up to showcase the very best that Haddington can offer could be decided in a matter of days.

Haddington Community Development Trust (HCDT) was formed in 2012 with ambitions to make more of the town as East Lothian’s hub and highlight Haddington as one of Scotland’s oldest towns.

However, moves to revamp the town’s Corn Exchange – with a new floor, kitchen and mezzanine floor in the back hall – did not happen after a grant of £482,282, through the Legacy:Scotland grants offered by Viridor Credits, was turned down, after HCDT, which had taken over the running of the building from East Lothian Council, claimed that the conditions of the grant were too difficult for it to meet.

HCDT acknowledged that “a number of factors” had contributed to “a lack of support” for the group, including a lack of communication and engagement from the board and a subsequent decision to terminate the lease of the Court Street venue.

HCDT’s interim board is calling for people with a “can do” attitude to come forward and help deliver a trio of projects designed to boost the town.

A rescheduled AGM is being held in the Corn Exchange next Monday (August 10), with doors opening at 6.30pm.

An HCDT spokesman said: “We are identifying ways to ensure the key actions from the Vision for Haddington can be progressed to produce positive outcomes for the town.

“We recognise that this has been a difficult and frustrating period for both members of the trust and the community but we firmly believe that, with the public’s support, we can move the trust forward.

“The first step is to ensure we have enough members in attendance at the re-scheduled AGM.”

Attempts were made to hold an AGM on May 11.

However, the small turnout meant that the meeting was not quorate and instead some volunteers were co-opted on to an interim board.

The group is now made up of Claire Goodwin, Paul Darling (Haddington Community Council) and Jack Rogan (Knox Academy).

Karen Stevenson (Haddington and District Amenity Society) and Judith Warren (Haddington and District Business Association) were co-opted as representative members, while Fiona Frances-Adam, Ron Goldie, Jan Wilson and Frances Wright were co-opted to enable the board to become quorate and thus make decisions.

A fortnight later, Mrs Wright was selected as chairwoman, with Mr Darling as treasurer.

Mr Darling said: “We need the directors to step up and people who can do.

“That’s been the slight problem – before, the HCDT has been a talking shop but from now on it is time restricted because the money has to be spent and the plans are out there.”

Between £60,000 and £70,000 is available, with a trio of projects earmarked to take place before the money could be returned to the local authority next year.

Mr Darling added: “They are looking at a centralised website for Haddington, which would link in absolutely every organisation or link to them.

“There is also a Riverside project of some kind, which would see a lot more signage and some tourist information boards so people out next to the River Tyne know where they are and where they can go.

“The final part is we know there is a lack of tourist information for Haddington in places.

“When tourists come here we want there to be something we can give them.”

The closing date for applications to become a director is today (Friday), with applications available from Joe Forte Sports or the Malt Kiln.

Annual membership costs £1.

SOURCE: East Lothian Courier

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