£3.4m boost for local communities

Friday January 29th 2016

Midlothian Council has been awarded a £3.4 million grant allocation to run a LEADER programme throughout Midlothian and East Lothian.

The LEADER programme is a rural grant fund which is available throughout the rural areas of Scotland. It is part of the Scottish Rural Development Fund which comes from a source of European Funding.

The Tyne Esk LEADER programme is a joint programme covering the rural areas of Midlothian and East Lothian (but excluding Dalkeith and Musselburgh). It takes its name from the two rivers which flow between East and Midlothian: the River Tyne and the River Esk.

This will be the third LEADER programme which has operated in the area and which Midlothian has benefitted from. Previously, the two LEADER programmes were managed by East Lothian Council.

The Scottish Government has approved the Local Development Strategy which was led by Midlothian Council with support from the Local Action Group (LAG), an organisation made up of representatives from public, private and third sector. The strategy evolved following extensive consultation with communities, individuals, businesses and organisations operating within the Tyne Esk area.

The aim of the consultation was to help identify some of the key issues that were affecting these rural communities. Some of the common themes or issues which came from this consultation included: local environment improvements such as signage, improved streetscapes and improved green spaces; the lack of activities for families, children, young people and older people; the need for more local employment opportunities; traffic calming and transport issues; and proposals for community hubs/shops/gardens.

Now, with the launch fast approaching, it’s time for our communities, individuals, business and organisations to think about potential project ideas which would benefit from funding.

Applications will be welcomed from local third sector organisations or community groups, local agencies, public sector and from private business. Within this programme there is a real push on supporting rural enterprise and also assisting with farm diversification projects.

Andrew McDonald, the Chairman Tyne Esk LEADER Local Action Group, said: “This programme will welcome applications for as many projects as possible that will fit our priorities and should bring much-needed jobs and added prosperity to our rural areas.

“We already have some amazing success stories in Tyne Esk from previous LEADER programmes and we wish to build on this. We are all excited about the possibilities this funding can deliver in shaping the future growth across the Tyne Esk area together with your help in alerting any businesses and individuals who could benefit from this funding.”

Midlothian Council will have a programme of launch events to promote the new programme and is currently preparing its communications strategy with details to be publicised on www.tyneesk.co.uk. Grants will be awarded until the end of 2019 as the LEADER programme will end in 2020. Interested parties are therefore encouraged to start thinking now about projects that will really benefit the area.

Grant applications will be welcomed from projects which take place throughout the rural areas of East Lothian and Midlothian. Areas not fully covered by the previous LEADER Programmes (Penicuik, Lasswade, Bonnyrigg and Polton) are now eligible to apply; however, Dalkeith and Musselburgh are, unfortunately, excluded from the new programme.

The Tyne Esk LAG is being part-financed by the Scottish government and the European Community LEADER 2014-2020 programme.

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