Cash bid to boost rural economy

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A bid for European cash to boost jobs and growth and develop the rural economy in the North York Moors is set to be submitted later this year.

Farmers, small businesses, tourism and cultural events in the North York Moors National Park, hill country and coastal communities, could benefit from the next wave of European funding from a successful scheme that has injected millions 
of pounds into the countryside.

The bid is being made by Yorkshire officials from the Leader scheme, a method of delivering European funding at local level.

Amy Thomas, programme manager for the area, said a drop-in session is being held at the National Park headquarters on Bondgate, Helmsley, on Thursday July 24, between 2.30pm and 4.30pm, when advice and project ideas will be discussed.

Ms Thomas said extensive consultation has been carried out on ideas: “We have now nearly finished the first draft of our new Leader programme and have tried to ensure that there are plenty of opportunities for the new programme to support a range of projects which are seen as important for the area.”

It will, she added, focus strongly on jobs and growth to support and develop the local rural economy.

Six priorities have been drawn up by the Government – support for farm diversification and productivity, micro and small businesses, tourism, rural services, cultural and heritage activity and forest productivity.

“We aim to promote and improve farm business resilience, looking to the future of the industry through innovation,” said Ms Thomas.

In addition small businesses will be helped to work together in clusters to share resources, develop new supply chains and markets, while efforts to attract more tourists and boost the visitor economy will be supported.

Another priority will be to help essential rural services which aid the local economy.

The final submission of the new Leader initiative will be sent to Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) with a decision expected in November. The previous programme saw £5.3m invested in a number of projects.

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