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LEADER funding begins to impact on rural Inverness (03/11/09)
Rural Inverness has recently seen its first funding awards made under the Highland LEADER Programme. Beauly Shinty Club have been awarded £10,590 to upgrade their pitch and facilities and Strathdearn Hall will receive £35,000 towards the cost of building a brand new multi-use sports facility for the village.
LEADER is a European grants programme specifically designed to promote economic and community development in rural areas. Rural communities throughout the Highlands can apply for a share of just under £10 million which has been made available for local development projects to the end of 2013. The Highland Council, on behalf of the Highland Community Planning Partnership is the lead partner for the programme.
LEADER programme manager Nicole Wallace said: “It is very encouraging to see LEADER funds begin to filter through in Rural Inverness and projects getting ready to start. We also have numerous projects at the enquiry stage and we look forward over the coming months to supporting these and many others to make a real difference to local communities”
These are the first of what is hoped will be many successful applications in Rural Inverness. Duncan Hendry, Community Development Worker covering the Strathdearn area said: "The new sports facility will make a big difference to our isolated rural community and is a key project the local community wished to see happen. LEADER funding was a very useful source to apply to, as its main purpose is to promote economic and community development. The process was reasonably quick and simple and help was available with what was an extremely user friendly application process."
Fiona Morrison of Beauly Shinty Club’s committee said: “Securing LEADER funding has been a major step forward for our ambitions to upgrade the pitch and facilities at Braeview Park. This has the potential to have a big impact on the local economy in Beauly through enabling the club to host larger competitions and bring more visitors into the village. We felt our project would fit well with LEADER’s aims. We were able to discuss our idea with the local LEADER Development Officer and get advice and support in making our application, which was extremely helpful”.
One of the key principles behind LEADER is to have decisions made on grant awards at as local a level as possible, to reflect the differing needs and priorities of communities throughout Highland. To this end, the Highlands have been split up into 11 “local area partnerships”, each of which has its own LEADER local action group, responsible for making awards.
William Gilfillan, Interim Chair of the Rural Inverness LEADER local action group said: “I am delighted to see local groups begin to come forward with LEADER applications reflecting development priorities for their areas. Local decision making on grant allocations is a key aspect of the LEADER programme and I am very pleased that the Rural Inverness LEADER group has begun to approve funding for projects. I would encourage all communities in Rural Inverness to make the most of this opportunity and come forward with ideas and applications for local development projects. Help and support is available with the application process and we are keen to maximise the benefits from this funding stream.”
Full information about the LEADER programme and details on how to apply for funding can be found at www.highlandleader.com. The minimum grant award is £1,000 and maximum grants are at the discretion of local LEADER groups.