Projects given LEADER boost

More local projects, including a number in Berwickshire, have been successful in attracting LEADER funding.

So far the Scottish Borders LEADER Programme has granted £2,697,614 to 44 local projects which explore new ways to address rural issues.

As reported at the end of last year, Coldingham Sands Community Company were successful with their application for £116,000 worth of LEADER funding, the largest single grant awarded to them for the building of a new visitor centre.

With just one final piece of the funding jigsaw to come, the Community Company hope that work on the building, which will also house the village post office, will begin in March.

Another Berwickshire beneficiary of LEADER money was Eyemouth Harbour Pontoon and Shore Diver Access Development; a project to improve dive tourism facilities to generate income streams and sustainability.

And other Border projects to receive grants include Woodland Youth Training, a training and skills development initiative for young people and OnlineBorders, a website providing community and support groups with a host site, advice, information and the software to allow the public to take part in consultations.

The LEADER Programme is part the Scottish Rural Development Programme. What makes LEADER unique is its focus on innovation, increased local capacity and local decision making.

All projects are led by, or result in direct benefits for local communities and groups of businesses.

There is £856,000 of LEADER funds unallocated and grants will continue to be committed to projects until all funding is gone.

In response to the current financial challenges faced by local communities and businesses during 2011, communities can apply to LEADER to fund up to 75 percent of their project’s costs. The 2011 deadlines for applications are: February 3, May 6, August 5 and October 28.

Councillor Vicky Davidson, Scottish Borders Council’s Executive Member for Economic Development said: “The LEADER Programme provides much needed support for improving our rural quality of life and the economy in the Scottish Borders.

“It encourages people to develop new ideas and the exciting projects coming forward are finding innovative solutions to the challenges we all face in rural areas.”

LEADER news, updates and other funding information is available online at www.scottishbordersleader.co.uk.