A bid is to be launched to bring substantial funding for rural development projects to Oxfordshire.
A group representing businesses and community organisations, with support from South Oxfordshire and Vale of White Horse district councils, is set to apply for a share of £138million LEADER funding which is being made available to help bring about projects to boost the rural economy across the country.
LEADER is a well-established programme provided by the Rural Development Programme and jointly funded by the EU and Defra.
The LEADER programme has been running across Southern Oxfordshire for the last five years, providing financial support for a wide variety of successful projects in the rural economy and rural communities, including the Shotover microbrewery, Lily’s Farm Shop and Café in Dorchester and the Uffington Village Store.
The time has now come to apply for a further round of funding from 2015 to 2020 and it has been agreed that any new money should be used to benefit a wider area of rural Oxfordshire. The new Oxfordshire LEADER programme will cover parts of West Oxfordshire and Cherwell districts, as well as areas in South and Vale.
The Oxfordshire bid for funding will be prepared over the summer and submitted to Defra, for approval, in September.
The programme has been managed by South Oxfordshire District Council and steered by a ‘Local Action Group’ or LAG made up of representatives from the rural communities in the area.
Elizabeth Gillespie, chair of the group preparing the funding bid, said: “The Government wants local people to fund projects that boost the rural economy and rural communities and we already have a strong track record of success in this area.
“To help with this bid for funding we would be very keen to hear from any rural business that has plans that will benefit their local area. It could be a project that creates new jobs or provides new or improved services.”