AFTER 20 years and investments totalling £20m. in Dumfries & Galloway, the LEADER project has come to an end.
Brexit has been given as the reason for the demise of the project which had seen many community, business and farming initiatives benefit as they have sought to regenerate their economies.
LEADER operated in several parts of the country and had been largely funded by the European Union.
It supported over 200 projects and worked with around 100 groups, organisations and businesses, including those in Wigtown and Glenkens, and in Langholm, which saw £260,000 of funding for youth and environmental initiatives.
Some of these groups are included in a short video about the legacy of Dumfries & Galloway LEADER.
Some have expressed their concern that without a replacement scheme, the region’s efforts to regenerate and rebuild after the pandemic will suffer if a replacement is not established immediately.
The Langholm Initiative’s former project manager, Judith Johnson, said it was ‘vital’ something was established soon.
“LEADER reached the parts of rural Dumfries & Galloway that other organisations did not always reach,” she said.
“The communities of Langholm and Eskdale have benefitted massively not only from the financial investment in a wide range of projects, but from the encouragement and support of a proactive and supportive LEADER team.
“From the early years of the ‘Moorland Education’ project, through ‘Making the Most of the Moorland’ to the recent community buyout of part of the Langholm Moor, LEADER has enabled a community to engage with its environmental resource over a sustained period, to build confidence and expertise, and create a host of environmental, economic and educational opportunities for the future.
“Communities across D&G have proved that with the right support, they can achieve amazing things. It is vital that this bottom-up way of working does not grind to a halt.”
LEADER made grants on a match funding basis, as a result its initial £20m. resulted in £40m. of additional investment in Dumfries & Galloway.
It offered not only funding, but hands-on practical support and advice and encouraged new ideas and collaboration between areas, communities, businesses, and organisations.
Dumfries & Galloway LEADER programme manager, Nicola Hill said: “It has been a pleasure working with our communities over the years to see their ideas come to fruition and our rural areas thrive.
“LEADER may no longer be around but the vision, the desire to collaborate and the drive for change will still be there in our communities and they will be well-placed to maximise the benefit of any future funds that replace it.”
- Watch the short video on Dumfries & Galloway LEADER’s legacy, visit https://www.dgleader.co.uk/documents/leader-documents/.