A PEEBLESSHIRE politician has backed plans to improve the site of a local community group.

David Mundell, the Conservative MP for Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale and Tweeddale, has offered his support for proposals by Biggar Men's Shed for the development of the former Walston Primary School building.

The school is five miles from the town and is currently leased by the Men's Shed from South Lanarkshire Council.

In a letter of support for the group's plans, Mr Mundell said: “I am impressed by the extent Biggar Men’s Shed work with other local groups in the community, especially those supporting young people.

“They have a large pool of experience, from professions and trades through to arts and crafts, which they are putting to good use enhancing the premises and surrounding grounds, which include a polytunnel and garden area.

“Perhaps most importantly, the Shed is a welcoming social environment, having a positive impact on general well-being and mental health.

"The members aim to draw in the wider community as much as possible.”

Mr Mundell, himself a member of the Men's Shed, was given a tour of the 1890s school building and met with office-bearers ahead of the Christmas holidays.

Ranald McGregor, Biggar Men's Shed committee chair, said: “Since we secured the lease for the old school, things have started to move forward and we now have 45 members.

“There is a huge amount of work to be done to bring the building up to the standard we need and make it suitable for all our activities and hopefully for wider community use.

“It is a fantastic site and, although we are out of town, it is quite central and convenient for much of our membership which is also drawn from the wide area surrounding Biggar itself.”

Biggar Men's Shed was founded in 2018 and experienced delays to its plans due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Shed secretary Stuart McKay said that developing a workshop, arts area, community garden and meeting space, as well as bringing in more funding, would help the local Men's Shed to secure permanent ownership of the school through a community asset transfer from the council.

He added: “That is one of our key goals and amongst our priorities is establishing a positive dialogue with the local authority to take the proposal forward.”

Biggar Men's Shed is open to men aged 18 and above, and current members have a range of skills and backgrounds, including in electrical, joinery, construction, IT and a former airline pilot.

Current sessions with the Shed are on Wednesday and Thursday from 10am-4pm.

For more information on Biggar Men's Shed, visit: www.biggarmensshed.uk/