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The population of Northmavine is one of the most peripheral on the mainland of Shetland and covers its largest geographical area, stretching from Mavis Grind in the south to North Roe in the north and Eshaness in the west. The population of 841 (Census 2001) is concentrated around the five main settlement areas of Hillswick, Eshaness, North Roe, Ollaberry and Sullom. Northmavine comprises a series of scattered communities and in fact covers 22% of the landmass of mainland Shetland, although it contains only 4% of its population.
In April 2004, Northmavine achieved the Scottish Executive's Initiative at the Edge (IatE) status. This status was given to rural communities in Scotland who were classed as economically and socially fragile. Northmavine was suffering from an ageing and declining population. Employment within the area was scarce and mainly in the primary sector. Historically, employment within this sector is low paid and subject to fluctuation.
At a specially called Extraordinary General Meeting in July 2004, the members of an IatE Local Development Group became the new Board of Directors of the Northmavine Development Company (NDC). The Company was originally formed in June 1993 'for the benefit of the public of Northmavine' and carried out development work in the area before becoming dormant. It is a registered company limited by guarantee.
Under the terms of the Initiative at the Edge programme, funding was made available to employ a full-time project worker and associated costs. Worker time was first used to organise a series of community consultations in conjunction with the board of directors. This resulted in the creation of a Northmavine Development Plan, launched in May 2005. The purpose of the company was to put the Northmavine Development Plan into operation and to be a focal point for all those concerned individually or collectively with the regeneration of Northmavine. To date, this is still the purpose, and action has been taken on a large number of the priorities originally identified. Membership of the Company was, and still is; open to any Northmavine resident who shares its aims and objectives. The Company has a board of volunteer directors who are all chosen from the membership and live in Northmavine.
After the company had been in operation for some time, it was decided that the community would benefit from a more refined company structure. In 2008, after a special resolution passed at the AGM, the NDC became the Northmavine Community Development Company (NCDC). Membership, assets and liabilities of the NDC transferred to the NCDC and the NCDC is a company limited by guarantee with charitable status.
Initiative at the Edge status came to an end for Northmavine on 31st March 2009. Shetland Islands Council has recently adopted a regeneration policy in which seven areas of Shetland, including Northmavine, have been identified for support as part of a five year plan. Financial support from the SIC has been secured on a tapering basis and will end 31st March 2014. Highlands and Islands Enterprise also provide a small, but invaluable, amount of grant funding support. This will also end in 2014. The balance of funding required for NCDC core costs to employ a community project officer and a community development assistant and all associated office costs, has to be sourced from other grants funds or earned income. The NCDC hopes to generate an increasing amount of income from it's own sources and be able to continue when funds from the SIC and HIE cease in 2014 .