Holyrood allocates £4m to the Borders for rural economy

Councillor Stuart Bell says the funding is 'hugely valuable' to the Borders.

Councillor Stuart Bell says the funding is 'hugely valuable' to the Borders.

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The Scottish Government has allocated £4million to the Scottish Borders LEADER programme for the period up to 2020.

The LEADER programme will offer project funding to support the development of rural areas.

The programme is underpinned by a local development strategy, which was established through local consultation in 2014 and submitted to the Scottish Government for approval in early 2015.

A new LEADER Local Action Group has been appointed to manage the Scottish Borders LEADER programme up to 2020.

Made up of local people with enthusiasm for change and diverse skills, the group’s membership represents a wide variety of rural partners and stakeholders. The Local Action Group will make decisions on applications for LEADER funding.

Scottish Borders Council (SBC) is responsible for managing the funds and LEADER staff, including a co-ordinator and facilitator, will be based in the council’s economic development section.

The LEADER programme will be launched later this year. Councillor Stuart Bell, SBC’s executive member for economic development, said: “LEADER funding in the Scottish Borders is hugely valuable in supporting innovative projects that otherwise would have difficulty getting off the ground.

“I look forward to the launch of the new programme, and to seeing new projects as they develop, and welcome the appointment of the Local Action Group.”

In the previous programme, which ran from 2007 to 2013, the Scottish Borders LEADER fund was worth £3.5m and 71 projects were supported across the Borders. News, updates and case studies of achievements are available at www.scottishbordersleader.co.uk

Among the successful projects in the previous programme were Stable Life, based near Selkirk, and the 7stanes mountain biking network.

Stable Life received almost £99,000 from LEADER as part of a £200,000 project which enabled over 300 people to take part in tailored weekly support sessions.

These used the horse and its environment to challenge ‘referred’ young people about the impact their behaviour has on relationships and employability and support a positive and sustained change in attitude.

Over £50,000 of LEADER funding was used by the 7stanes project to develop mountain biking trail maps and guides, develop a new website and increase marketing activites.

This and other activities undertaken as part of the overall £111,000 project helped bring an additional 10,445 tourists to the area and secured sponsorship from two major companies.