£1.6m boost for rural economy

A £1.6m bid has been approved to boost farming and rural businesses in Leicestershire.

The county council and the Leicestershire Rural Partnership (LRP) are celebrating after Defra and the European Union's LEADER scheme agreed the application.

The money will support:

• farm and forestry businesses improve their productivity
• a growing food and drink sector
• networked home-based businesses
• a thriving short-stay visitor destination
• communities that are able to provide local services
• vibrant rural market towns

The bid has been developed by a range of local stakeholders including businesses and communities, who will continue to be involved in its delivery over the next five years.

Small businesses and communities can apply for funding to deliver projects that will support LEADER priorities in the rural areas of Melton, Harborough and some parts of Charnwood and Blaby.

County councillor and Chair of the LRP Pam Posnett said: "Farms, rural estates and small businesses are a vital part of Leicestershire's economy and this funding will support them to diversify, invest and grow.

"Winning this cash will provide a real boost for some of the most rural parts of our county and I look forward to seeing the first projects delivered next year."

Working with communities and businesses, the bid will be delivered by the county council, supported by Melton Borough Council and Harborough District Council, with work starting next year.

Melton Borough Council leader Byron Rhodes, said:There are particular challenges that our businesses and residents face in a rural environment and this funding will provide a huge opportunity to address some of these issues."

The money would help to stimulate growth and job creation, said Councillor Rhodes.

Harborough District Council leader Blake Pain said: "A lot of hard work has gone into securing this bid and we're delighted this funding will be so beneficial to the local economy.

"It will particularly benefit things like home-based businesses, market towns and tourism – all things which embody the Harborough district."

LEADER aims to support more than 60 projects, create or safeguard more than 140 jobs and benefit 350 businesses. The final allocation is expected to be in the region of £1.6m.

LEADER is part of the European Union's Rural Development Programme. It brings communities and businesses together to identify projects that will support rural development.



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