Harper backs funding bid and provides a platform in parliament for Stranraer Water Sports Association

Last week (Tuesday 24 November) South Scotland MSP Emma Harper provided a parliamentary platform for members of Stranraer Water Sports Association (SWSA) to present the results of their feasibility study at the Scottish Parliament’s Marine Tourism and Recreational Boating Cross Party Group.


Members of the Cross Party Group were impressed by the Stranraer group’s plans when they met online to discuss the study which outlines the potential of a Water Sports Hub, including an Active Beach to capitalise on the opportunity for water based activities for the enjoyment of people participating at all levels and developing life skills, learning and sporting prowess.


The parliamentary Cross Party Group heard from SWSA board members, Chair – David Davis, Secretary – Steve Dampney, Youth Development Officer – Dr Athena Vaughan, Open Swimmer – Harry Harbottle and Project Development Officer Wendi Cuffe. The CPG heard the presentation about the group’s plans to construct a dedicated building which will include a relaxed and informal beach café and learning area, more formal training, meeting rooms and a club area, with top quality changing and drying facilities. The presenters conveyed energy, enthusiasm, excitement and passion from all presenters about the capability of Stranraer as a world-class water sports destination.


The facility aims to be a great local venue whilst being fully capable of delivering national and international regattas and a wide range of events. It builds on SWSA’s success in delivering the world class quality Stranraer Skiffie Worlds event in 2019, which attracted over 2,700 participants and supporters, around 30,000 visitors, a visit from both HRH Princess Anne and Scottish Government Cabinet Secretary Fiona Hyslop MSP. The event injected a welcome £4 million economic boost to the region.


Ms Harper welcomed the proposals resulting from the feasibility study congratulating the group on their vision and work in delivering their proposals. Ms Harper also promised to support SWAS’s application to the Scottish Government Regeneration Capital Grant to help deliver the new development.


Ms Harper said;


“The work that Stranraer Water Sports Association has been undertaking is fantastic and this feasibility study clearly outlines the benefits for the local people living in Stranraer and the surrounding area as well as the potential to continue to deliver national events in which support Scotland’s rural economy. Developing a first class water sports Hub and Active Beach utilising Loch Ryan in this way is an exciting opportunity so I’m delighted to have assisted SWAS with a platform to present their feasibility study to the Scottish Parliament’s Marine Tourism and Recreational Boating Cross Party Group and I’m delighted that CPG members were notably impressed by the presentation and proposal being put forward.
“I will continue to highlight the work of Stranraer groups by raising motions in parliament on their activities and mentioning their work in parliamentary debates. I have enjoyed attending all of the previous Oyster Festivals and the Skiffie World Championships (July 2019). These latest plans by Stranraer Water Sports Association meet nine out of eleven of the National Performance Framework goals which outline the sustainable and successful Scotland we’re aiming to be and I am backing the bid by SWSA for funding from the Scottish Government Regeneration Capital Grant. I have already written to the Cabinet Secretary – Fergus Ewing to offer my support.
“Stranraer’s water front development is exactly the kind of progress we must encourage and support to help communities and grow businesses, tourism and promote the growth of the marine sector within the Scottish Government’s strategic framework for the marine sector which works in partnership across the industry and public sector through clubs, associations, communities and businesses involved in marine tourism.
“I very much hope the bid will be successful to ensure the group can acquire the budget needed for such a positive project which will put Stranraer on the map as a professional water sports destination, utilising the town’s natural asset of Loch Ryan, and harness the enthusiasm garnered from Stranraer hosting several large scale events, providing local jobs and opportunities for the local community”.

Project Manager of Stranraer Water Sports Association, Wendi Cuffe, said;


It’s absolutely fantastic to have Emma Harper MSP’s backing and we’re looking forward to presenting our proposals to the Scottish Parliament this week.
We are also thrilled to have Ms Harper’s backing for the Scottish Government funding as this project is a game changer for Stranraer and will allow the wonderful asset of Loch Ryan to be utilised whilst benefitting those who live here.
“Since the departure of the ferry port from Stranraer, the waterfront has been underused and disconnected from the town centre. Dumfries & Galloway Council are currently developing proposals for the regeneration of the wider waterfront including a large scale expansion to the marina, an expanded boat yard with workshops, improved pedestrian routes alongside new and improved facilities for both the public and the marina users. The SWSA centre will sit well amongst these improvements forming a cohesive set of attractions and facilities and these developments will mutually benefit from each other drawing the local and wider public to enjoy and make use of Loch Ryan and the shore side creating a strong waterfront community”.


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