Funding boost for rural communities
Wednesday, 04 July 2012
Hampshire County Council has awarded grants of over £400,000 for rural projects in a bid to boost economic prosperity, encourage more people to visit the countryside and ensure that rural communities have the opportunity to develop and thrive.
This year another £200,000 funding is available for projects from Hampshire County Council's Rural Delivery Strategy. Nine applications were received through the County Council's new electronic grants system and funding for these was agreed by the Executive Member for Economic Development and Rural Affairs on 28 June.
The projects include, £35,000 for Village Agents to improve information for older and vulnerable people, £25,000 to upgrade village halls and other community buildings, £14,000 for an Age Concern initiative to deliver IT training, and £15,000 to provide better access to the countryside. All funded projects are expected to generate additional funding from other sources to match the grant awarded.
Total of £800,000 invested in rural communities
Last year,18 projects received a share of the £200,000 funding attracting total match funding of over £670,000. It is estimated that County Council funding helped pull in a combined investment of over £800,000 in rural communities.
Eleven community-led projects were also awarded funding from the Community Challenge Fund in 2011/12. As the fund proved so popular, the total grants available were increased from £10,000 to nearly £23,000.
Councillor Ray Ellis, Executive Member for Economic Development and Rural Affairs said: "These projects are testing new and innovative ways to deliver rural services and helping communities develop and thrive. The feedback from organisations working in rural communities has been very positive and future progress will depend on developing new ideas to support our rural communities. As the majority of Hampshire's area is rural, it is vital that we look after the interest of our communities and continue to help support locally generated initiatives wherever we can.
'Strong and vibrant rural communities'
"All the projects have been very effective in pulling in other sources of funding and enabling communities to unlock resources at a local level. This is also important as it ensures the commitment of the local community for successful completion of the project. The projects for this year will continue to build on that success and ensure that rural communities remain strong and vibrant."
The Community Challenge Fund is now open again and applications are welcome.