£3.4m funding boost for rural community

Mid and East Antrim Mayor, Councillor Billy Ashe, pictured centre, with Ken Nelson, Chief Executive Officer, LEDCOM; Andrew McAlister, Investment & Funding Delivery Manager, Mid and East Antrim Council; Anne Donaghy, Chief Executive, Mid and East Antrim Council and Roy Beggs, Chairman, Mid & East Antrim Local Action Group, right. (Submitted Picture).
Mid and East Antrim Mayor, Councillor Billy Ashe, pictured centre, with Ken Nelson, Chief Executive Officer, LEDCOM; Andrew McAlister, Investment & Funding Delivery Manager, Mid and East Antrim Council; Anne Donaghy, Chief Executive, Mid and East Antrim Council and Roy Beggs, Chairman, Mid & East Antrim Local Action Group, right. (Submitted Picture).

Rural communities in Ballymena and the wider Mid & East Antrim Borough are to benefit from a new £3.4m funding kitty for rural development.

The Borough’s Mayor, Councillor Billy Ashe, has welcomed the launch of a new Rural Development Programme by Mid and East Antrim Local Action Group (MEA LAG).

Speaking at the event at the Local Economic Development Company (LEDCOM) at Willowbank Business Park in Larne, last Tuesday afternoon, Councillor Billy Ashe, said that “Council is delighted that the programme will support projects worth £3.4 million in the Mid and East Antrim region over the next four years”.

He said: “In these difficult economic times, this very welcome funding will be used to enhance rural areas within the Borough in a number of ways.

“Specifically, it will promote the creation of jobs; developing infrastructure; regenerating villages and improve services in local communities.”

Mid and East Antrim Local Action Group (MEA LAG) is the body tasked with administering Rural Development Programme funding in the Mid and East Antrim area.

Its Chairman, Roy Beggs MBE, said the Rural Development Programme, which is supported by funding from the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD) and the European Union, is “a fantastic chance” for local people to access project financing.

“Given the challenging, current economic climate and the disappointing employment news over the past few months, we have allocated the largest amount of our funding to the Rural Business Investment Scheme,” he said.

Mr Beggs also pointed out that, in a change to previous programmes all applicants that are interested in applying must attend a mandatory workshop and said he was pleased to announce that the LAG has now set dates for the first set of workshops.

Also attending the launch event were Mid & East Antrim Council’s Chief Executive Anne Donaghy, Council’s Investment and Funding Delivery Manager Andrew McAlister and Ken Nelson, LEDCOM Chief Executive Officer.

Mid & East Antrim LAG has some £3.4million to distribute across the region under five Rural Development Programme measures: Rural Business Investment; Rural Basic Services; Village Renewal; Rural Broadband; and, Co-operation.

Anyone wishing to find out more about the funding available or to register for a workshop can contact the Rural Development Programme Office on 028 2563 3266 or visit the new website www.meardp.com which has lots of information for prospective applicants.