Extension plan gets £25,000 grant

THURSO Players’ Mill Theatre extension plans have been given a £25,000 boost from the Highland Leader programme.
Since 2007 the programme has supported 300 community projects across the Highlands to the tune of just over £13 million. The focus of the programme has now turned from commitment to spend. To date in excess of £3 m of funds has been drawn down by applicants and of this amount £1m has been awarded since July 201.
LEADER is a European grants programme specifically designed to promote economic and community development in rural areas. The Highland Council, on behalf of the Highland Community Planning Partnership is the lead partner for the programme.
Councillor Ian Ross, Chairman of Highland Council’s Planning, Environment and Development Committee praised everyone involved. He said: “The figures really speak for themselves. To process and pay out £1 million worth of grants to local communities in just 3 months is a great achievement and I am delighted to say that LEADER in the Highlands is well in line with our projected Programme spend and is making a very real difference to communities and community based projects across the Highlands.
Mr Ross added: "Credit must go to the staff for their work in efficiently processing applications. I am sure that the guidance and support they have provided to applicants has greatly contributed to the smooth and timely processing of such a high volume of applications. I would also like to thank the fantastic effort by all the applicants to progress their projects, submit their claims and work closely with the LEADER team to ensure all paperwork meets the EU audit standard.
“With a further £2.5 million available up until 2014, I hope more local groups across the Highlands will put forward projects and take advantage of this funding opportunity.”
Nicole Wallace, LEADER Programme Manager added: “Initially we have been slower than we would have liked in paying claims due in part to staff resourcing and the level of inaccuracies in the claims submitted .However over the last 6 months with an increase in staff resources and the implementation of a series of claim clinics across the Highlands claim processing and payments have increased significantly.”
One of the key principles behind LEADER is to have decisions made on grant awards at as local a level as possible, to reflect the differing needs and priorities of communities throughout Highland. To this end, the Highlands have been split up into 11 “local area partnerships”, each of which has its own LEADER local action group, responsible for making awards.
Recent LEADER awards include:
• Caithness - £23K to Thurso Players for an extension to Mill Theatre;
• Sutherland - £24K to Bettyhill Play Park Committee for a new village play park;
• Ross and Cromarty - £25.346K to Ross Sutherland Rugby Club to develop training facilities at their Invergordon clubhouse;
• Skye & Lochalsh - £93K to Carbost Pier Limited for the first phase of work to develop access to the sea at Carbost;
• Lochaber - £50k to Action For Children Lochaber for a children and parent project;
• Nairn - £33,978K to Nairn Allotment Society for the Mill Road Allotment project;
• Rural Inverness – £85,825K to Dores and Essich Community Council for Dores village improvements;
Full details of Highland LEADER can be found by visiting
http://www.highlandleader.com/ or telephoning Nicole Wallace on 01463 702524. For further information please contact Nicole Wallace as above.