The rural economies of North East Wales are in line for a massive £6 million cash injection over the next five years – and now the search is on for local people to target the money.
The funds will be spent to help regenerate the rural areas of Denbighshire, Flintshire and Wrexham and the final say on where they are spent will be down to volunteers.
They will form Local Action Groups in each county with successful regeneration agency Cadwyn Clwyd administering the scheme which will run until 2020.
The Local Action Groups have won the European cash bonanza from Denbighshire, Flintshire and Wrexham through a detailed bid.
Cadwyn Clwyd has previously distributed over £14 million to the rural economies of Denbighshire and Flintshire since 2000.
They have backed schemes as diverse as setting up a post office in a country pub on Halkyn Mountain, helping farmers on the Clwydian Range Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty market their lamb and developing a hydro-electric power scheme for Corwen.
The new LEADER projects will see the rural area of Wrexham County Borough, mainly the large area south and west of North Wales’s biggest town, receive £2.25 million while Flintshire receives £2.47 million and Denbighshire £1.9 million.
The programme is part of the Wales Rural Development Programme 2014-2020 and is funded through the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development and the Welsh Government.
Cadwyn Clwyd Manager Lowri Owain said: “What we need now are volunteers from the three rural areas to help identify and target where the money should go.
“There will be separate Local Action Groups for Wrexham, Flintshire and Denbighshire made up of 18 representatives drawn equally from the public, private and community sectors.
“The community sector could include people from rural businesses, trade associations, tourism and environmental organisations and charities and social groups.
“The main qualification will be that they have their finger on the pulse of their area as they will have the vital role of deciding how and where this money is spent.
“We want to enlist the energy and resources of these people in a partnership that will be to the benefit of rural communities and their economies.”
The LEADER programme will have five main themes; local identity and natural and cultural resources, business partnerships and supply chains, local services, renewable energy and digital technology.
The areas have tourism resources such as the Clwydian Range of Outstanding Natural Beauty and the Pontcysyllte World Heritage Site in Wrexham, high quality agricultural produce and artisan food suppliers and major potential for renewable energy.
Cadwyn Clwyd also has a successful track record of encouraging local services such as community shops, helping small businesses set up and encouraging diversity and plans to extend this to the sphere of technology.
David Darlington, from Gyfelia, a founder member of the Wrexham LAG, said: “Wrexham has a large rural area which is very important to the economy of the county and which includes two of the seven wonders of Wales, Gresford Bells and Overton’s Yews as well as the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct.
“A great deal of important regeneration work has been done here through this vital European funding and we’re delighted that we will be able to carry on with this over the coming years.”
Lowri Owain added: “As a company, we’ve been very successful in attracting funding and in helping to get projects realised and we work with a wide range of projects.
“This will be an extension of the successful series of programmes which we have been running in Denbighshire and Flintshire and which now will continue through to 2020.
“Securing this funding is a massive vote of confidence in the work that has been done across all aspects of rural life from tourism, food production and job creation to improving community facilities and encouraging the arts.
“It will mean that the local economy in rural North East Wales will continue to diversity and develop.”
Cadwyn Clwyd has helped secure the future of major local events like the Hamper Llangollen and Mold Food Festival as well as launching the Prince of Wales’s favourite community enterprise, Pub is the Hub in Wales for the first time in Wales before rolling it out across a total of eight local authority areas in Wales.
Other successful initiatives have seen them work with local food producers as well as help launch the Pwllglas Community Shop near Ruthin, winner of a Rural Community Ownership Award for 2014, while their bursaries have given a kickstart to small businesses and young entrepreneurs, first in Flintshire and then in Denbighshire as well.
They are currently helping Corwen set up its own hydro renewable energy project and supporting the community of Trelogan with the asset transfer of the Village Hall.
Other community projects have included working with the people of Saltney to develop their Heritage Trail and Sense of Place project and developing the conservation training project ‘Living Churchyards’ project in both Flintshire and Denbighshire.
For a chance to play a part in the Local Action Groups across Denbighshire, Flintshire and Wrexham County Borough call 01824 705802 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org for an application form.