Trust hoping to reopen former filling station at Newcastleton
Villagers are stepping on the gas in a bid to cut their energy costs and travelling time.
Newcastleton and District Community Trust, representing a population of 900 in 650 households scattered across 1,200 square miles, is kick-starting a project to reopen a former petrol pump station in the village after securing a grant of £51,000 from the Scottish Government’s land fund.
Since the station closed, villagers have had to travel further afield to fill up their cars.
As soon as more funding is in place, the plan is to create a community interest company called Newcastleton Community Trading to operate the petrol pumps and manage the volunteers manning the garage.
The trust is budgeting for a part-time paid job to support the operation, with the hope of creating further job opportunities in the future.
Before setting off on the project, the trust carried out research locally to find out how much fuel the 90% of members of the community, in the Hawick and Hermitage electoral ward, with car would buy from the village pumps.
A third of respondents said the price of the fuel would influence their decision, but two-thirds said that would make no difference, citing convenience and saving time as bigger factors.
The trust estimates that it costs local businesses more than £650 per week to travel to buy fuel, amounting to £34,000 annually.
Research has been carried out to work out the cost and travel time involved in buying fuel from nearby communities rather than in the village.
For example, a journey to Hawick is more than 50 miles there and back and takes an hour and a half.
Fuel bought in Hawick currently costs around £5.26, compared to the £5.62 it would be estimated to cost in the village, an extra 36p.
Steven Hartley, chairman of the trust, said: “We are delighted to receive the grant from the Scottish land fund enabling the community to purchase the old derelict petrol station site in the village.
“It is an environmental boost to our new community development trust that others recognise our efforts and are prepared to support us to overcome the challenges ahead.
“The prospect of having fuel again in our village is very exciting.
“It will bring a huge economic boost to all, especially our local trades and retailers who have seen declines in the spend made at their businesses as everyone has had to travel to get fuel.”