With over 20 Trails Associations helping to manage the trails across Scotland, the next evolution was for the TAs to begin to have staff and professional support to help them grow their impact in local communities. We were keen to support this by advocating the need for professional staff, highlighting the impact staff in TAs can have, and use the employment infrastructure within our host, Scottish Cycling, to hire staff and work in partnership with TAs to deliver projects and trail improvements.
The DMBinS/TVTA Scottish Borders Trail Development Co-ordinator post was created to deliver a partnership project to develop and improve mountain biking trails in the Tweed Valley and across the Scottish Borders.
The main purpose of the role is to represent the TVTA and DMBinS to liaise with landowners, land managers, and the MTB community to deliver an increased number of dig days, increase the diversity of those involved in trail work including more women and young people, increase opportunities for training and upskilling, help local businesses and organisations offer new MTB services and deliver hands-on practical work alongside the required paperwork to sustain and improve the trail network we all love.
Since taking up the post, Marc has been busy with:-
- 33 Inspections and 61 Digs
- Involving over 110 unique Volunteers
- Circa 2000 hours of volunteer time
- Volunteer Dig days with Sustrans and Baillie Gifford
- 12km Trail Developed or Improved
- 32 DIRTT Dig Leaders trained over 3 courses in the Tweed Valley
- 4 Outdoor First Aid Trained and Qualified
- Ran a series of trail inspection and maintenance sessions with Peebles High School in the Autumn term.
- Educational session with BASE Students and Leaders - Read PinkBike Article
- 10 secure bike storage grants awarded
- Land Manager Issues - Meetings with FLS, British Horse Society, and Innerleithen Community Trust
- Circa £15k spent on tools and materials to enable trail development and maintenance
- 16 MTB Night Leaders Trained and Qualified alongside 16 sets of MTB Lights to be used as a pool for local kids clubs to enable them to keep riding during the winter sessions - find out more below.
Within the remit of Marc's role and budget, there was an opportunity identified to help the local kids mountain bike clubs increase their offer to club members by upskilling 16 current leaders, putting them through the British Cycling Night Leader training and assessment with Ridelines MTB and purchasing a pool of lights.
The kids club sessions running through the winter at weekends, can often be cancelled due to poor weather. Offering this opportunity to the four local kids clubs, Peebles Cycling Club, Peebles High School Club, Cranked and Kids Innerleithen Cycling Club, has meant that the kids have more opportunities to ride throughout the winter.
With a healthy discount thanks to Exposure lights, we have been able to provision 16 sets of lights, so the parents don't have to buy into this opportunity for their kids, making it open to all.
With the funding for Marc's role having come to an end, we are hoping to be successful in our application to the UK Shared Prosperity Fund (UKSPF) to allow us to continue this work in the Tweed Valley. We are also hoping to secure funding for a new Tweed Valley Regional Coordinator.
Over the next 3 years, the Scottish Borders will host international events and deliver three multi-million-pound mountain bike capital projects – The Borderlands MTB Project, a refresh of the 7Stanes, and the Glentress Masterplan. This role will liaise closely with Marc's role to ensure that mountain biking grows at a community level within the Tweed Valley to capitalise fully on these upcoming opportunities.
Keep your fingers crossed and as soon as we receive positive news of our application to the UKSPF, we will be starting the advertising and recruitment process for the regional co-ordinator post.
We hope, and believe, that the benefits of this role will not only be felt in the Tweed Valley but also across Scotland.
As the first role of its kind, we now have a strong evidence base of the impact that this role can have on communities and businesses. Through the evaluation process, we have also looked at how the role can evolve and potential improvements that could be made.
We will be using this evidence to apply for regional development funding to bring in more posts to continue to develop the trail network with communities across Scotland.
It is likely that these posts will require match funding. If you can, please consider donating to the Scottish Trail Fund to help us develop Scottish trails. Thanks.
This position is part-funded by the UK Government through the UK Community Renewal Fund