LEADing the way to success!

Winchester and East Hampshire districts have successfully led a local bid for just over £2 million of funding from SEEDA, the regional development agency.

The bid was submitted by the Fieldfare Local Action Group, supported by officers on both councils, and chaired by Sir James Scott of Rotherfield Park, East Tisted.  The group got together in June 2007 in order to plan their bid to SEEDA for funding from the LEADER programme which is designed to support rural economies and communities.

Sir James Scott, chairman of the Local Action Group was delighted with the result, “The Local Action Group is thrilled to be one of the groups chosen to receive LEADER funding.  This has been the result of a great deal of work from a large number of individuals, working together for the benefit of our rural economy.  I would like to congratulate them all.”

Once the contract has been signed with SEEDA, the money will become available for projects selected by the Local Action Group which will enhance the rural areas of the two districts – which is everywhere other than Winchester town, Alton, Whitehill-Bordon, Petersfield and Horndean.  The funds originate from the Common Agricultural Policy, so SEEDA want it invested in the rural economy.  The Fieldfare bid picked five themes under which the money will be spent:

  • To facilitate agricultural and forestry / woodland business development and diversification
  • To support the regeneration of rural communities
  • To develop a quality rural tourism offer
  • To provide enterprise and skills development for small rural businesses
  • To enhance the value of the physical environment

These themes are underpinned by the cross cutting issue of sustainability, which every project will need to demonstrate before it is funded.

Cllr George Beckett, Leader of Winchester City Council, is looking forward to the coming five years, “This money is a real achievement for the two districts.  Winchester City Council is pleased to be involved in yet another project supporting the rural economy.  We will make sure that this funding is spent on a variety of projects that support all sectors of our rural economy and fit well within the local Action group’s themes.”

Cllr Richard Millard, Portfolio Holder for Business Development at East Hampshire District Council, said, “I am delighted that rural businesses and communities will be able to benefit from this funding.  As the credit crunch hits it is vital that our rural areas are given as much support as possible.  A thriving economy and vibrant communities are essential if the area’s valued countryside is to be maintained.  This award has been gained through the hard work of the Fieldfare Local Action Group supported by East Hampshire and Winchester City Councils.  This is an excellent example of how councils are working together with business, community and public sector interests to improve people’s lives.”

If you have a project which fits under one or more of the themes above, you might be eligible to bid for funds of up to £50,000.  For more information, go to www.winchester.gov.uk/leaderfunding or email kcrawford@winchester.gov.uk  or mike.gibbs@easthants.gov.uk  All potential applicants should note that no funding can be given until the final contract is agreed with SEEDA.

For more information about LEADER funding in the local area, go to www.winchester.gov.uk/leaderfunding