‘Gates closed’ to new Making it Local funding bids

Grants scheme hot by 30 per cent reduction in funding.

The chairman of grants body Making it Local says he is “bitterly disappointed” that funding has been cut by 30 per cent, despite an appeal.

Paul Diviani says the partnership of rural businesses and community groups, covering Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty in the Blackdown Hills and East Devon, cannot accept new applications - because of Defra’s decision.

“We are bitterly disappointed with the cut, since it means that we cannot currently accept new applications,” he told the Midweek Herald.

“Over �1,357,600, which has been committed successfully to 57 projects, will be honoured by Defra but, for now, the gates are closed.

“If some projects under-spend or more money is allocated to us, we will be able to offer funding under our small grants programme, so people should keep in touch via our website for news of funding available from this or other Making it Local secured �2.4 million of European funding in 2008 to address the lack of rural facilities and create more employment.

The grants scheme’s three part-time staff will continue to run the programme until December 2013, in order to support the funded projects and to develop networks and skills in the area.

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They will continue to run their popular, free funding workshops giving targeted advice to people on key local funds and how to write a good application.

The staff are also available to give one-to-one advice to community groups and small businesses to help them obtain finance and develop new ideas to improve quality of life and employment opportunities in their communities.

An event is being organised for late November to give people the chance to find out more.

A number of village halls, shops and schools have benefited from important improvements that will help them bring in more income and remain financially viable. The communities helped include Yarcombe, Whitford and Branscombe.

Green tourism projects supported by Making it Local include an innovative walk-through enclosure for Red Squirrels at Escot Park, which attracted 1,500 tourists within the first two months, as well as local maps and walking trails for Ottery St Mary, Axminster and the Otter Valley.