RENFREWSHIRE'S dear green spaces are so important to our health and wellbeing – and hearing about a project in my own ward brought this home to me once again.

The dedication of Erskine Community Garden volunteers in turning derelict land into a fantastic recreational and educational space, complete with fruit bushes and a perfume-scented maze, is to be commended.

Once complete, the local community will benefit from a beautiful, tranquil place and as Heather Clisset – one of the people behind the project – said, it will not only transform the look of the place but also help spark the social side too, bringing the community closer together.

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It is projects like this that could benefit from the new £1.8million Green Spaces, Park and Play Areas and Villages Investment Fund, which opens on on Monday (today). 

Community groups and volunteers can apply for funding and support to improve a green space in their town or village. That could be about turning underused land into a recreational community space or it could be about upgrading or developing a local play area.

The fund also makes money available for specific projects which celebrate and strengthen the unique heritage and identity of Renfrewshire’s villages.

The Gazette:

Cllr Iain Nicolson 

Whatever the idea, I encourage all community groups or volunteers to get in touch and we will provide as much support as we can to make these ideas a reality.

For more details, visit the council website or call 0141 887 7707 and speak to the Engage Renfrewshire Community and Voluntary Action Team.

This adds to the Community Empowerment Fund we set up to help local groups towards taking over ownership of a building or land.

It has already sparked the imagination, with great projects like Active Communities supported in their efforts to turn the former Johnstone police station into a community health and wellbeing hub.

My SNP administration is investing heavily in cleaning up the local environment and these new funds give Renfrewshire communities more opportunity and say than ever before in the future look and feel of their own areas.

There has also been good news for Renfrewshire in terms of the economic boost that hosting major events has generated.

Latest figures show these events have already created a £1.25million boost for the local economy in 2018 alone.

More than 70,000 people came from across Scotland and beyond to attend the Paisley Food and Drink Festival, the British Pipe Band

Championships and the Sma’ Shot/Weave festival, each attracting five-figure crowds.

Events are an important part of our plans to attract more people to visit Renfrewshire and use our unique heritage to deliver long-term economic, social and cultural change.

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If you haven’t done so already, check out the listings for The Spree, which runs from Friday, October 12, to Saturday, October 20, with tickets selling fast for the hugely-popular music festival.

It’s not just these flagship events which bring benefits to the whole of Renfrewshire and we are working on plans to improve support to local communities who have ideas for local events.

Watch this space for more details.