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Argyll and the Islands Local Development Strategy

Argyll and the Islands is a complex and diverse rural area reaching from the Hebridean island of Tiree in the Atlantic west to the suburbs of Helensburgh in the east and from Appin in the north to the Island of Arran in the south. It has a land area of approximately 738.797 hectares and an average population density of 0.13 persons per hectare. 99.3% of the area is classified  as  being  rural  while Arran & the Cumbrae are classified as remote rural. Within 31 inhabitated islands, Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park, the area presents significant challenges in terms of accessibility, integration and development to its inhabitants. Travel time is high, if compared to other parts of the UK, due to heavily intended coastlines, mountains, islands, single track roads and poor transport links. Concerning the economy, even if public sector is a major employer, the main industries are tourism, agriculture, forestry, aquaculture, fishing and service provision. Whisky production is very important to some local economies.

The Argyll and the Island Local Action Group has a strong history in the area and has contributed significantly in the past to enabling rural communities to respond to some of the many development opportunities and challenges that are still facing them by finding their own solutions for piloting new approaches to rural development and making the most of the outstanding natural environment and contributing to long term economic sustainability. For the 2007-2013 LEADER programming period, the LAG is one of 20 in Scotland with a total of £21,8 milions, including public and private sector match funding. More specifically, Convergence ERDF funding of £15,8m adds to LEADER funding of £5,9m.

The LAG strongly emphasizes community-led development alongside growing and supporting social enterprises and key sector-based enterprises, including agriculture and tourism. It is the responsibility of the LAG to develop and implement the Local Development Strategy (LDS) and thereafter to undertake its review strategically ‘ensuring that their organisations’ regional strategies are reflected in the original LDS and through its subsequent implementation.

The overall aim of the LDS is to support sustainable community based development of rural communities within the area. This is achieved by funding projects which contribute to the delivery of the two following themes:

• Theme 1- Revitalising communities:

– Improving accessibility to support community-based initiatives that improve and retain access to services for those living within the rural areas of Argyll and the Islands. There are only three roads into the area which are often closed due to a high accident rate and most of the area does not have easy access to rail;

– Supporting voluntary activity for innovative and development projects and to encourage cooperation between the voluntary and the public sectors with the aim to improve communication  in such a geographically disparate area and joint working;

– Enhancing the quality of life to support projects leading to a greater sense of community achievement and sense of place that improve the quality of life in rural areas, particularly for older and young people and families which face challenges such as more limited education opportunities, lack of employment opportunities, inadequate provision of public services;

– Enhancing the rural environment to support community-based initiatives in order to help maintain, improve and sustain the important areas of natural, cultural and archeological heritage (ancient monument sites and buildings mountains, forest, sea and freshwater lochs, rivers, beaches, etc.) which underpin the tourism industry and where many groups are actively involved with small projects to improve their local environment and enhance their local culture.

• Theme 2 – Progressive Rural Economy:

– Strenghthening the rural economy of the area by supporting projects for active people to reduce their outmigration, providing opportunities for economic growth, increased prosperity and productivity;

– Improving collaboration to support initiatives to encourage cooperation between the primary sector and other rural business sectors, through collaborative marketing, promotion and supply chain activity with the aim to increase the availability of local produce and maximum benefit;

– Building capacity and training to support activities that will generate increased skills in the key sectors of the area such as the social economy which contribute to sustainable economic outputs and allow rural communities to undertake projects which facilitate the sustainability of the sector and increase prosperity in the rural community;

– Encouraging research and development to improve the economic performance through targeting sectors with the potential for maximizing growth (e.g. tourism, forestry, fishing, aquaculture and agriculture, renewable energy)  and deliver innovative approaches to the use of research in project development to help informed decision making in rural communities and businesses (e.g. feasibility studies, market research, transfer knowledge).

The LDS states that these themes will be delivered through a variety of project activities which focus on the Programme area key sectors as tourism and agriculture. At this context, the LAG identifies ‘the challenge and merits of community-led planning and supporting the community to deliver more project activity and the desire to bring forward larger and more strategic projects as the most effective way to deliver impacts’  and makes decisions on application (whether to approve a project, refer it for further work or to reject applications).

5.7.2 Origin and composition of the Partnership

The current LAG Argyll and Island was initiated just prior to the start of the EU 2007-2013 rural development programming period. ‘The partnership already existed so there was already an understanding amongst communities in this region that this aspect of European funding could be tapped’.  During Leader+ 2000-2006 programming period, the LAG was called WHELK – West Highland Environment Link Kist. It was called this because it linked two regions through delivering mostly environmental projects. The two regions were Argyll and the Islands and Lochaber (the region neighbouring Argyll to the north).  ‘Kist means ‘Chest’ (as in money chest) in the Scottish language.  When we developed the current LEADER programme we decided to split the Argyll and Islands element from the Lochaber element as that fitted the circumstances of our region better. But essentially the current LAG in Argyll can trace its roots from the Argyll partners that were active during the LEADER+ programme. The Scottish government said if you want to access money, you need to demonstrate that you have got the community backing. So part of the development of the local development strategy was to go out and actively seek the views and desires of the wider local community. There were meetings about the LEADER project, and we got feedback, we would invite certain sectors to come and visit us and tell what they wanted. And that was what initiated it’.  In terms of fears and resistance, some sectors, specifically land based sectors, felt they would not be eligible for LEADER because they are traditionally funded by other rural development measures. ‘They believed that LEADER was not for them, so there was a common misunderstanding amongst farmers that the LEADER money was actually their money. And that through modulations, it had been taken off them and put into the rural development budget’.

The LAG membership very much stems from the priorities in the LDS. As there have been common threads in the LDS between 2000-2006, 2007-2013 and the future 2014-2020 programming periods, then there have been common LAG partners. For example, the environment, community development and social enterprise have been common themes throughout successive programmes and ‘so our LAG partnership has reflected this. Latterly, social enterprise has been a growing theme and more and more partners are representing this sector. Then community owned and governed business sector will likely continue to be a growing sector in the future’.

The members have the responsibility for delivering the Local Development Strategy and making decisions on implementing the LEADER approach, recognizing that the LAG has an important role in rural development for the communities of the area. They have the responsibility for awarding funding to successful applicants and its Lead partner, the Argyll and Bute Council, is responsible for employing staff, proving secretariat support and managing the budget.

The LAG has 25 partner representatives from a wide range of public, private and community sector organisations where 49% of members are from the public sector and 51% from communities.

‘I think  if LAG got any bigger than 25 members then it would be harder to have such a coherent group. Because you start to lose interest in the periphery of the region, or you have holes in who is representing. Too many people with their own opinions. I think it works well with 20 – 25 members of a LAG in a region of this size.’

‘I don’t see why it has to be 51% from communities. I don’t think that’s necessary. I think it would be sufficient just to have representation up to a level of 50% but not greater. I would say that in my experience, I work for the government, and even if it was all government organisation decisions sitting round the table, I believe we would get to the same answers because we’re a very objective about things’.

‘Personally I think that public bodies should be here just to guarantee transparency and not that the private part should be 51%, because we’re talking about conflict of interest. I think the public would be very suspicious and it might not appear to be open and transparent if it was done at a government level, that decisions were made based on… I know that there are pros and cons with everything but I think because we have got local community involvement with various community organisations that we have that transparent process there with a balance of community and professionals’.

Name of the organisation Role

Public

Argyll and Bute Council Lead partner, with responsibility for service delivery, it works between the public, private and voluntary sectors to facilitate the long-term sustainability of the area’s environment, economy and community.

North Ayrshire Council provides all Local Authority services, leads on Community Planning and local rural knowledge.

Highlands and Island Enterprises (HIE)  encourages the emerging social enterprise sector and the fostering of entrepreneurship within communities and secure long term sustainability.

Visit Scotland aims to grow tourism revenues in rural areas by 50% by 2015, to promote the rural areas, the quality services and to provide comprehensive information services.

Argyll and Bute Young Scot/ Dialogue Youth works in partnership to deliver a localised youth info package through Dialogue Youth with the aim to ensure that young people are fully represented, by providing information and opportunities.

Forestry Commission Scotland contributes to the delivery of a wide range of rural development outcomes, mainly through direct engagement in rural partnerships, provision of financial support and advisory services.

Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park Authority coordinates development within its boundaries and is involved in Community Futures, Land Management Grant Schemes, Land Futures, National Park Biodiversity Action Plan and Black Grouse projects

Scottish Natural Heritage promotes the care and improvement of Scotland‟s natural heritage, its responsible enjoyment, its greater understanding and appreciation, and its sustainable use.

Scottish Government Rural Payments and Inspections Directorate implements and operates the Common Agricultural Policy and other support schemes for farmers and crofters in relation to agriculture and the community.

Public/Private/Community Partnership

Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park Community Partnership supports community organisations through enterprising and inclusive Community Development Trusts, Community Councils, and Village Forums.

Argyll and Bute Local Biodiversity Partnership supports biodiversity conservation of land, freshwater and marine and coastal resources by positive management and protection through sustainable measures and enhancement of this resource.

Argyll and Bute Agricultural Forum raises awareness of agricultural and crofting issues in Argyll and Bute.

Community

Arran Council for Voluntary Services provides a wide range of information and support services to voluntary and community groups located on the islands of Arran and Cumbrae.

Argyll and Bute Volunteer Centre creates a sustainable culture of volunteering / supporting volunteers.

Association of Argyll and Bute Community Councils improves communications between Argyll & Bute Council and other bodies and Community Councils and establishes a forum about matters of common interest, the exchange of ideas, views and information, to seek to provide facilities for the education and training of members and non members.

Fyne Homes provides feedback to inform each of the housing associations within the area of wider rural development issues.

Argyll and Bute Social Enterprise Network (ABSEN) which is an affiliation of a wide variety of social enterprises to share good practice, offer peer support, develop trading links and explore new ways of strengthening the social economy in the area.

Community Development Trusts represented by Lochgoil Community Trust, The Cumbrae Initiative, it enables communities to tackle local issues and to improve the quality of life.

Scottish Native Woods/ Argyll Green Woodworkers Association works with woodland occupiers in Argyll, from estates and farms to crofters and tenants to restore and expand existing native woodlands.

Scottish Islands Federation provides a coherent and strong voice for islanders and island issues at a local, national and E.U. level.

Islay and Jura Council for Voluntary Services supports community and voluntary organisations with funding applications, guidance and representation in planning forums locally and nationally.

Private

Scottish Association of Shellfish Farmers represents shellfish growers

Federation Of Small Businesses represents all private sectors members of Federation Of Small Businesses.

Source: Argyll and the Islands LEADER Local Action Group Local Development Strategy.

The  Scottish government was not involved in the partnership during the previous 1994-1999 and 2000-2006 LEADER programmes. ‘Now, when the new SRDP came on in 2007 there was a Community element of our programme that was being delivered by the Scottish government rural payments inspection directorate along with the Agri- environmental payments and the SRDP money for developing agricultural businesses. So, one of the reasons that we were invited on was because we were also delivering Community money. Our SRDP budget was for individuals developing rural businesses and so the other part of my skills coming across would have been in delivery of schemes through Scottish government payments in terms of being able to contribute to good governance at a LAG level’.

There is a strong business community representation, including the Federation of Small business, the Argyll and Bute Agricultural Forum as well as the Highlands and Island Enterprise (HIE) and the Argyll and Bute Social Enterprise Network (ABSEN) which helps to ensure that the LAG is able to bring the economic, innovative and business impact to the Programme and where the private sector (e.g. SMEs) may be beneficial.

There are also community representations and organization that represent their local communities as the biodiversity sector which is represented by the Argyll and Bute Local Biodiversity Partnership which ‘didn’t have enough project skill to actually deliver to get more money from Europe so LEADER became the obvious track. The amazing thing about the partnership was that you come from your own little small area and you’re meeting people from enterprises and people from communities who are actually active doing community work coming on the LAG in their own time and coming in with lots of knowledge, so it’s the sharing of knowledge around the LEADER LAG. We don’t just go to work and go home and sit with our families, we do other things in the community as well, because as professionals we don’t like sitting around. But it is quite nice to be able to share that skill and also provide that support to community projects that otherwise mightn’t think of you’.

The farming and forestry sector is represented by the agricultural forum which is a meeting of all the agencies and individuals representing farming and the third sector is represented by the Argyll Voluntary Action and Arran Council for Voluntary Services while tourism, environmental and cultural organisations are represented by North Ayrshire and the Loch Lomond and Trossache National. They have been a key element in the creation of the local development strategy and play an active role in its management and delivery with a bottom-up approach through the views of their membership and continued involvement of all partners, gathering information from a wide variety of sources which could help to select the most appropriate development themes.

‘Most of the partnership are previous beneficiaries so they understand what the direct benefits are of participating. So they put their expertise into the partnership for the benefits of others. It mostly extended to coming along to meetings to decide on who gets what funding’.

The people representing the private sector are not individuals per se and are not also politically elected members of other organisations on rural development reasons but they have been elected for fundamental services or whatever ‘and what LEADER does is bringing in people from the private sectors who are only interested in rural development and furthering beyond what is normal public life’.

Finally, ‘the presence of not politically elected members could be a good or a bad although it is good to have political clout and our politicians are very good if we have an issue to. Even though they don’t sit on the Leader LAG they are good at lobbying on our behalf’.

5.7.3 Organization, operation and involvement

Within the voluntary, the private and the local government sectors there are key individuals who understand how the LAG works and they are there to provide expertise and experience of the sector they represent and an overview of how rural development should work in the area and steer decisions which the LAG made. ‘They are also there to ensure good governance, that the lead partner, who is administering the funds, is doing it fairly and responsible’.   Having representatives from different sectors all speaking and working together in one group, allows for sharing of good information, knowledge and seeing integration.

Their further role is to be an animator, to advise applicants, and identify gaps in rural development. And also within rural areas there are quite a few of them that have community development trusts. They do an assessment of what they would like to see in the area of what needs to be upgraded, what they have and also done a fair bit of consultation with the local community and they will help support projects. So, it’s not just the LAG and then the community projects, there are various organisations in between that are there to assist in terms of community development.

The LAG doesn’t directly employ people. There are partnership agreements with the local authorities (e.g. the local council) which are delegated the responsibility and decisions to manage the contracts of the applicants. Up to a certain management threshold, the staff can make decisions about money within the project, but beyond, they refer decisions back to the LAG. More specifically, the Argyll and the Islands LEADER LAG is build on the administrative structure developed during the former WHELK LEADER+ Programme. Argyll and Bute Council acts as the Lead partner and as such provides the Secretariat for the partnership. In this role the Council undertakes fiscal responsibility, provides secretarial support to the LAG and employs two LEADER project co-ordinators that deliver and promote the programme at local level. The chair of the LEADER section is managed by an Argyll & Bute Council Senior Development Officer who has the overall responsibility for the smooth running of the programme and servicing the LAG.  The administrative support is provided by a dedicated LEADER Grant Administration Assistant. Finally, there are commissions, contracts and consultant to review the performance of the LEADER programme in the LAG through local people interview and analysed statistics.

The LAG has roughly four decision meetings a year, once a quarter with one additional meeting for disposal of strategic business.  ‘There is always a good turnout at the LAG meetings and there has been a relative consistency of attendance as well, but what really works is getting all the assessment done prior to the meeting. Nobody has come in cold, they know exactly what we are about! We spend a lot of time getting consensus over the direction and priority, aims and objectives. When the time comes to decide on money, there is a good consensus about our priorities. We discuss gaps, challenges and future projects before the meeting. We don’t have much dissent. We have scored and assessed our proposals before we come to the meetings. So there are people challenging and asking specific questions about a project, but a consensus is usually kept. There is rarely a case where have to have a vote’.  Moreover, ‘we have a very clear traffic light (red, amber and green) expression or conflict of interest form. So, if you bring in a project and you have been very heavily involved in assisting with that community project, its maybe part of your daily work then you have to leave the room when it’s being discussed and the decision is made whether they get LEADER money or not. If somebody has just had some dealings with the project but they are not involved on a day to day basis, they could stay in the room and take part in the discussion on the application of the project but can’t vote to decide it. And, if there is no conflict of interest at all then you can take part in the discussion and as a LAG member you vote’.

The LEADER project funding is matched with Scottish funding. The LAG gives out no more than 50% (25% LEADER + 25% Scottish funding) awards to a project. The applicant has to find the other 50% from a wide range of sources. Lottery is one of them which although it is not administered by the government, it is administered like a public fund and is available for anyone in the UK. An applicant would have to apply to the Lottery to get funding from LEADER. ‘They apply to us for LEADER money, and demonstrate, that they have got the other 50% funding before we fund them. So, it is not our responsibility to find it. They could come to my organisation if they are doing an environmental project and get 50% from LEADER, and 50% from Scottish natural heritage. So it could be funded 100%. Besides, we fund quite a bit of feasibility studies and new ideas. So we don’t necessarily fund the final outcome, the project on the ground. But what we do is get people to communities and groups to the point where they have tested an idea to show that it will work. And maybe another scheme will follow from the actual project’.

Concerning the involvement of the people in the partnership, the LAG disseminates information about the types of activities that they have funded so that the public can see. They can get involved by applying to LEADER, and by getting direct feedback about their project. ‘We don’t generally invite the public to our meetings. If someone in the public wanted to witness, they could come along and observe’.

The local authority has elected representatives in all the public agencies which operate in the area and sit on the partnership. Thus the LAG reports the partnership what they are funding and how it relates to the local development strategy and the community and makes sure that the priorities meet the priorities of the locally elected members.

To ensure the partnership from the regions and sectors, the LAG has got a geographically difficult to cover the sectors and geography of the 26 islands which are inhabited by people and lochs and mountains between communities. ‘For instance, recently, the social, welfare and health sector has not been well represented on the LAG. So we go out and actively look for a representative from that sector to come and give us their perspective. We also do that in terms of applications. If we are not getting applications from a particular sector, we actively go out and host an event or meeting with groups and organisations which represent that sector, and say how can we help you get more funding? That comes from reviewing our strategy, and we then try to animate specific sectors’.

5.7.4 Objectives, outcomes, achievements and effectiveness of the local partnership practice

In terms of achievements, the LAG provides the support and assistance in project development making sure that community groups that are claiming money for work done know what they’re claiming, particularly for new groups that are applying to LEADER for the first time, to ensure that they are meeting the terms of their agreement and that everything is signed off accordingly.

The interviewers referred that the biggest impact of the LAG working is developing coherent regional scale to key economic sectors in terms of creating jobs, funding new social enterprise, put in capital and infrastructure projects such as significant village halls and community buildings improvements within social and sporting (e.g. Dalmally village). These buildings are very much multipurpose use and they are designed to be not just an area for people to gather as there are various facilities like sport, meeting rooms, lecture rooms, day and evening classes, adult learning, clubs for the younger people and lunch or afternoon tea clubs for the older people. ‘So they become multifunctional, because they are sort of, in terms of getting best value for the money spent, that it wasn’t just a building with an entrance’.   A lot of them have their own kitchens as they are able to facilitate parties and weddings, funerals as well as stage productions and getting people using it as a community centre rather than a village hall and where a lot of people are getting paid in terms of providing private services.

At this context, community involvement and mobilization have been quite important for a lot of projects when they were initially thinking about them and also just deciding on the best type of structure or construction, whether this project can go ahead or not and with that level of support, to go not only with LEADER funding to build and to implement the project, but also to engage with other funders as well in match funding. Another one was the Healthy Initiatives project concerning a provision of support through LEADER to employ additional staff for primary health care for unfit people and with health problems ‘and I think that’s something that they’ve shown that works and that will be incorporated into the NHS budget as a success story within LEADER that will be resourced through the central health provision in the area’.   ‘Maybe some of the employment will only be for the duration of the project but that can generate other activity and that’s the whole idea, you get money for this project, potentially the project could grow or we have ideas for future projects and the community become self-sustaining as well’.

Another successful type of project was that of providing training for young people that would otherwise have found it very difficult to find employment and to give them skills in rural areas and maybe develop their own businesses from that start that was given to them under LEADER.

Over the last number of years there has been a push towards marketing Argyll food. Before, lots of food from Argyll was being sold, without a label, and was being moved from one side of the country to the other and then being relabelled.  It would be things like Tyree lamb, beef products, as well as cheese. ‘Now, there is a lot there that can be marketed as food from Argyll and there is a group of various producers they have been going to various festivals around the country and being part of a food hub, supplying food to the great and the good’.  Moreover, in local restaurants, even the local schools, there was a pilot initiative run to supply local meat products and vegetables so that they are actually getting, reducing their food miles.

Tourism sector did not have a representative body before LEADER to develop the tourism economy and the same with agriculture and the land management which did not have a land management body.

Concerning the third sector, ‘If the LAG was not here it would still be there, it would be much less sustainable. It would be more broken up. It would not be as integrated or coherent. It would not have as much weight when it goes to seek funding and political support when it goes to the Scottish government. And what LEADER has helped to do is add that weight behind it to be more self-sustainable as a sector, and have more capacity to take on more, and have more of an impact. That is what LEADER does. We funded the development of rural development trusts ….we have achieved stable development ….we have provided the glue that keeps together rural development activities that the public agencies are unable to reach’.

In terms of the key strengths, the LAG works as a mean to bring not only LEADER but also transitional funding such as  ERDF  and European fisheries funding into Argyll. One success is that it still operates as a happy and positive partnership. The meetings are enjoyable and people participate. The LAG implements governance that allows appropriate spending of European money in the area which could have been misspent. ‘If we didn’t have the LAG in the area, we would have still had LEADER, and European money into the region, but it would have been decided upon by a larger and bigger area. And it would not have necessarily have been aligned to projects which worked in this area or under European priorities’.

Concerning the key weaknesses, the interviewers referred that they have a lot of bureaucracy which is perceived by a project applicant because they have a lot of compliance and paper work to do and community groups are working lot this in their spare time as they have not a full time job.  Even if the area is large and the sectors are diverse, they are driven by audit and it is very hard to take risks. ‘I worked in West Africa before, 20 years ago in rural development. The process is exactly the same in Europe. In terms of how communities work, who has the power, who the entrepreneurs are, who can make things happen, they are all the same people. There is always a chief in the village. Someone who makes decisions. And you generally find that you only need small amounts of money to lead to small things which make large things happen. But you could actually fund ten projects and if one works, and grows, then that is a success. Whereas the culture we have under LEADER and the way it works, and the audit process, you cannot afford a project to fail, because it is seen as a fault of the system’.   And there is a real dichotomy between LEADER being about innovation and rural development on one hand, and on the other hand, every decision being scrutinised by an audit because it looks as if it might fail and dampen the willingness to take risks. ‘So, what I am saying is that the way rural development agencies work in rural Africa, any developing country, the aid culture that the western countries adopt in Africa, South America or in Asia, it is the same thing. They try to make sure that every project succeeds. But if you look at business investment, and if an entrepreneur invests in ten businesses projects, they don’t expect them all to succeed. And when one looks as if it won’t succeed they might take their money out.  If you really want to progress rural development, new ideas, you have to fail, you have to try things out before you get the right one. And that is what LEADER should be doing. That is why we fund feasibility studies and research which say that this not going to work, or they need to do this to make it work”. But it does mean that they don’t get a lot of action on the ground because people are frightened of trying something it might be deemed ineligible and they might have their money taken back off through the auditing process. At this context, the LAG gives the opportunity to be more creative with the way they fund projects by spending more time in developing ideas and testing solutions before they fund an activity. And the opportunity is to think more longer term, in the 5 to 6 years of the programmes. The reason why the LAG has some really active communities on the Islands for instance is because they funded them and their capacity building two LEADER programming periods ago. That investment is now being reaped because those communities have better capacity and understand what it is to manage a project. ‘And they are coming in with bigger and better projects now because we funded those 10 to 15 years ago’.

In terms of what could be improved with the partnership in the future, ‘You can never do enough going out and translating what LEADER can do for people to the individual on the street. There is a phrase we use in the UK called ‘does the man on the Clapham bus know about this?’ You can test how good your policy is or anything you want to do by asking the man sitting on the bus in Clapham, a place in London. A normal street, like any street anywhere else in Britain. If you ask a man on a bus there, and if he knows LEADER, then success. Because he is an ordinary man sitting on a bus. If he says no, then we have failed. But, if people know what LEADER can do then that means they would try something, collaborate with other people, come to us with an application, try something new, and we would have furthered on some better understanding and knowledge and capacity to do stuff. So I suppose that the more applications we get for projects, the more successful we are being even if half of those projects don’t succeed’.

Finally, in terms of benefits from the LAG working, the interviewees referred that  there will always be a need for it because there will be some communities in Argyll that will be untouched and that need to develop themselves and without having funds in place, the idea wouldn’t even come off the drawing board, ‘giving you stimulus to take things forwards knowing that potential money is there’.

6.10 The case study of the LAG  CWWW – Coast, Wolds, Wetlands & Waterways

CWWW is one of the 64 LAGs operating across England and is one of 6 LAGs which have their focus in Yorkshire and Humberside.  The area covers approximately 880 square miles, includes 155 parishes and encompasses much of East Riding of Yorkshire Council excluding the sizeable towns of  Bridlington  and   Goole  as well

as Beverly and the surrounding rural areas. In North Yorkshire, it includes relevant and contiguous parts of  Ryedale and Scarborough districts.

The East Riding of Yorkshire, the Yorkshire Wolds and coastal strip in North Yorkshire is a predominantly rural area which is amongst the most sparsely populated in England. Over 95% of the land is in some form of agricultural use. The Area encompasses several different settlement and a range of economic and social characteristics and a variety of natural features. The CWWW population of more than 150.000 people, puts the LAG at the very top end of scale nationally considering that most LAGs cover a population of around 100,000 people.

For the 2007-2013 programming period, CWWW had a budget of over £ 2,8 millions which increased to over £ 7 millions through other sources such as the Heritage Lottery and private donations. If we consider the  average  LEADER budget across England, which is around £ 2 million  per LAG,  this places CWWW in the medium range of LAGs.   The overall rationale for the Programme is to link geographical area of socio-economic deprivation with a broad contiguous area of environmental and socio-economic opportunity through a programme focused upon place-based rural development activity and to promote and reinforce the value of cooperative and partnership working by bringing together organisations and individuals.

The broad needs and opportunities relating to the environment, heritage and culture are summarized under each of the four themes which underpin the Programme:

• Coast: it stretches for over 60 miles – from Cayton in the north to Spurn in the south. It is of international importance for its biodiversity to its wildlife colonies and breeding grounds and there is a strong heritage linked to the sea and fishing industry, military history sites and off-shore industries. Many villages are still linked to farming activities and the coastal strip is peripheral and suffers from problems of access and exclusion and low levels of civic engagement. These assets are seen as a significant opportunity to develop enterprise and create wealth by enhancing the environment and developing the cultural heritage;

• Wolds: they are important chalk and grassland upland areas dissected by narrow steeply incised valleys. The market towns of Driffield, Market Weighton and Pocklington have seen their traditional economic base eroded by a combination of social and economic change in the surrounding agricultural areas as employment, low wages, social housing and access to services. The Wolds are rich in opportunities linked to heritage around the landscape, agriculture, churches, country houses, medieval villages, archeology and local traditions;

• Wetlands: they are within flood plains and low lying and are most prominent in Howdenshire and the Lower Dervent valley/Humberhead Levels, around the Humber Estuary/River Ouse and at Hornsea Mere and Cayton Carr. Biodiversity is an important element particularly in respect of small and wetland mammals and wading and migratory birds.  Some wetland areas were severely affected by recent floods. Activity relating to the management of watercourses, flood storage, renewable energy even through education and training are likely to bring benefits;

• Waterways: the Rivers Derwent, Ouse, Aire and Hull, the Pocklington, Driffield and Aire and Calder canals, Beverly Beck, Hedon Haven and Gypsy Race are an important part of the natural and cultural heritage of the Area. They have a rich environmental and economic potential in terms of biodiversity, water management, economic and social history, transport heritage and local traditions and customs. Some of the market towns and villages are located along the waterways and their history development and culture is closely linked. There are currently a number of voluntary organisations involved with their development including their capacity to reach groups which could benefit from using the waterways.

‘I suppose the key issue was addressing the fact that the area’s natural heritage is, largely speaking, unexplored in many respects, quite hidden. It’s not an area that people naturally look at and think ‘my goodness there’s lots of wonderful heritage attractions that I could go and look at or get involved with there’. The area has a huge archaeological heritage which is second only to the Wiltshire Downs but most of it is not very visible. As an example, it has seabird colonies that are probably some of the finest in Europe up at Bempton but there wasn’t when partnership came together. There is a heritage coastline which is quite spectacular in parts. The local communities themselves are not necessarily actively engaged in promoting that heritage or working with it. So one of the key issues, I think, was to get a better understanding of the area’s heritage from local communities and then translate that into heritage activity projects which would be beneficial to the area’s rural economy’.

The LAG had a series of community consultation workshops throughout the area to all of the key partnerships and as a result of all of that they put together the local development strategy. More specifically, the Local Development Strategy identified five key strands they needed to address and to develop the programme of activity that was really about integrated sustainable rural development but they specialised largely in cultural heritage and tourism, ‘because in our area those were the things that were identified as needing investment to bring them up to an acceptable level and to have the greatest chance of giving economic development to the area’ .

This is achieved by funding projects which contribute to the delivery of the five following themes:

• Theme 1 – To maximise business opportunities throughout the delivery of the programme that lead to the development of new and existing local enterprises;

• Theme 2 – To build capacity, train and empower rural communities (by drawing on the potential of the natural and cultural heritage) in relation to project development – communication, business planning, environmental impact, assessment, forecasting, outputs, and monitoring;

• Theme 3 – To stimulate the growth of the cultural and creative sectors through the development of creative space for exhibitions, festivals, and events, art week, art in the garden and other ‘open studio’ type events, including local music festivals, sculpture and culture trails, audience development and participation;

• Theme 4 – Building on the potential of the Area’s natural heritage opportunities, develop local ownership and participation in environmental management as management of water quality, protection of biodiversity, mapping of ancient woodland, trees and orchards, development of hedgerows and naturalised field margins in co-operation with the farming community, improving the visitor/educational experience;

• Theme 5 – Develop facilities and networks of activity that create a focus and enable understanding and connectivity to local heritage and landscape as customs and traditions, support for the rural heritage sector (Churches, Country Houses), improving opportunities for cycling, walking and horse riding, development of local tourism partnerships, of a local food forum to bring stakeholders together and sustainable development of fisheries communities.

There were some key projects that the LAG identified and by each year reviewing what has been done, the LAG looked to see what the gaps were and targeted specific things to make sure that they achieved the key aims and objectives of the local development strategy. There was also a managed approach in terms of calls for projects, so for specific themes and specific things for the wider community to then apply for money.

6.10.1 Origin and composition of the Partnership

CWWW follows on from a previous LEADER+ Programme which operated exclusively across parts of the East Riding Local Authority area. The Programme only covered some parts of the East Riding and its partnership was the direct result of the fact that East Riding of Yorkshire council had a rural strategy and policy. The decision to expand the area to cover the whole of the Yorkshire Wolds was taken for the 2007-2013 programming period in order to give a better functional landscape coherence to the LAG area and to introduce working across administrative boundaries for the benefit of the rural population living and working in the Yorkshire Wolds. ‘The influence of local context was relatively strong primarily because of the extension of the area. Working across local authority boundaries is never easy, especially when you are working across boundaries that have a different local government structure. North Yorkshire is a two-tier authority, it has a county council and district councils that sit underneath it and we were working with the districts effectively, or boroughs. Whereas East Riding Council is a unitary authority. It doesn’t have districts and boroughs, it has all the powers in one place so, inevitably, that meant that from our council’s perspective we had a lot more capacity than the districts and that single-tier, I think had quite an influence on the way the partnership developed in its early days’.

The CWWW partnership was formed in 2007 to apply for LEADER funding but its members were drawn from a very broad range of business community and statutory to help deliver the local development strategy. The opportunity to be involved with the LAG was promoted by disseminating information in the press, the organization of public events which explained the role of the LAG, the aims of the Local developments Strategy and where the involvement with the LAG at other levels was encouraged.

‘People came to the LAG with a variety of different ideas and views about how it would work. Quite a lot were absolutely new to working on LEADER projects at all, so they perhaps came with an open mind. We recognised that bringing together such a broad range of people, so community members, small businesses and statutory people who had never worked together before to deliver a large European funding programme would require some training. We had a series of training workshops specifically for LAG members during the first year so that they could understand their roles and responsibilities and what was going to be achieved with the funding, the legal structure, the operating systems, the decision making process so that everybody was involved from day one, so there weren’t really any kind of preconditions, the LAG decided themselves how they wished to operate and developed a governance structure for our LAG’.

There was a specific fear on the part of partners from the new areas in North Yorkshire that they wouldn’t, in a sense, get a fair crack of the whip or that they would be left behind in some way because they didn’t have the same degree of LEADER experience of East Riding. Thus It took a while for people to get over that and realise that wasn’t what was going to happen. ‘There were specific groups who were resistant to the idea. Certainly we’ve always had good engagement from the farming community in this area, from the voluntary sector and from business so. I wouldn’t, I couldn’t put my finger on a particular group who resisted the idea’.

A job description  for them was also done so that they understood that every partner would be equal and it wouldn’t be dominated by any one particular sector. They all signed a commitment form so that they could raise awareness of the Local Action Group and what it was trying to do. More specifically, the LAG is composed of members having the relevant strategic delivery experience, positioning and skills as outlined in the LAG job outlines.

The membership includes representatives from public (no more than 49% including Parish and Town Councils), private and voluntary and community sectors and ensures that members live or have significant work related interest in the Area, especially given that the area crosses administrative boundaries, and are able to represent the different social, environmental and economic interests in the area. An inclusive approach was taken in the formation of the LAG, with the membership steered by appropriateness of the partnership in terms of private/public split, broad representation across social, environmental and economic interests relating the themes of the LDS and the capacity of members.

Basically the LAG group has about 30 members from various different bits like the National Farmers Union and the Driffield Agricultural Society that are the productive side of the rural economy, and then arch groups and social groups. ‘So you have got a mixture, a system of people interested in heritage, people interested in archaeology, people interested in just the social stuff, arts groups, churches and mixed with them you have got small businesses who are economic and agricultural businesses. So we have got a wide range of opinion and you have got Local Authorities, of course, because they are involved in the planning and messing about’.

Name of the organisation Role

Public

East Riding of Yorkshire Council & Sustainable Communities & Transport Action Group (LSP) Rural Programmes Manager – Accountable body

Bishop Burton College Wider RDPE, skills

East Riding of Yorkshire Council   Portfolio holder and communications channels – local authority

ERYC Rural Policy and Partnerships Strategic links to the sub region and the wider RDPE.

North Yorkshire County Council Local authority

Environment Agency Policy re wetlands and environment

Ryedale District Council Local authority

Scarborough Borough Council Local authority

University of Hull – Department of Geography Local food sector development – academics

Public/Private/Community Partnership

East Riding Cultural Partnership Community and strategic link to and key agencies

East Riding Market Towns Network Market towns partnerships of East Riding

East Riding of Yorkshire Rural Partnership Key communication channels and strategic links. Rural proofing.

East Riding of Yorkshire and Kingston on Hull Joint Local Access Forum Key communication channels – users groups (the Ramblers Association, equestrian, cycling etc,) land owners and managers.

Independent community/Malton & Norton Area Partnership Community and 3rd sector area partnerships concerned with issues facing remote rural villages and hamlets across the Yorkshire Wolds facilitated jointly by Humber & Wolds and the Yorkshire Rural Community Councils

The HEYwoods Initiative Woodland and heritage

Yorkshire Country Houses Partnership Built heritage, culture and tourism

Volunteer/Community

East Yorkshire Wolds Tourism Partnership A community tourism partnership aimed at promoting joint working between 3 market towns to improve their tourism offer.

Discover Filey A social enterprise working towards the economic, social and environmental regeneration of the southern area of the Yorkshire Coast. It also provides a number of services to the community including; use of IT equipment/internet access; photocopying services; setting up some training/capacity building programmes and the production of a Town Plan for Filey and local plans for villages in the surrounding areas.

Howden Civic Society As a voluntary organization, its principal task is to monitor all development proposals in the town which might impact on the historic core and traditions of Howden.

Museums Libraries Archives Yorkshire Rural heritage and museums sectors

Rural Action Yorkshire It is a charity working with communities across Yorkshire to improve the quality of life for the people who live and work there.

Rural Arts North Yorkshire Community artists and culture Rural Arts North Yorkshire is an arts charity providing an extensive outreach programme of taster sessions, workshops, courses and projects in visual and performing arts across the whole of the County of North Yorkshire

Ryedale Voluntary Action Ryedale Voluntary Action (RVA) is a registered charity working across Ryedale providing voluntary and community support. It provides a number of services including: information, representation, governance and charity law advice, funding advice, financial services, volunteer brokerage service and training.

Southern Area Cluster Community and 3rd sector area partnerships

Sustainable Natural Environment Task Group It is an informal group of representatives of the local council, statutory agencies such as Natural England and the Environment Agency and non-governmental organisations including the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust, who are collectively responsible for developing and coordinating natural environment activities in the East Riding of Yorkshire.

The Humber and Wolds Rural Community Council Itl is a registered charity working in the villages and smaller rural communities throughout East Riding of Yorkshire, North Lincolnshire and North East Lincolnshire.

The RSPB – Environment and biodiversity It is the UK charity working to secure a healthy environment for birds and other wildlife. It works for the conservation of wild birds, other wildlife and the places in which they live in a wide variety of ways

The Sobriety Project (at the Waterways Museum &

Adventure Centre) The Yorkshire Waterways Museum offers an extensive collection which tells the story of the Port of Goole, the transportation of coal, the lives of barge families, and the boat building tradition of our ancestors. Its economic and social purpose is to be an attraction and archive for visitors and to offer friendship, dignity and training to disadvantaged people to enable them to gain the skills and confidence to be economically and socially active.

Yorkshire Wolds Buildings Preservation Trust Community built & cultural heritage

Yorkshire Wolds Way Natural environment & tourism tray Association

Yorkshire Wildlife Trust It  is a local charity working to protect and conserve Yorkshire’s wild places and wildlife for all to enjoy. They care for over 96 nature reserves in Yorkshire including iconic sites such as Spurn NNR, Staveley Nature Reserve, Potteric Carr and Flamborough Cliffs.

Yorkshire Waterways Museum The Yorkshire Waterways Museum offers an extensive collection which tells the story of the Port of Goole, the transportation of coal, the lives of barge families, and the boat

building tradition of our ancestors. The economic and social purpose of the Museum is to be an attraction and archive for visitors and to offer friendship, dignity and training to disadvantaged people to enable them to gain the skills and confidence to be economically and socially active.

Indipendent community Community and 3rd sector area partnerships

Private

Driffield Agricultural Society Farmer organisation

East Riding Artists/Pocklington Arts Centre It supports and encourages local artists through a programme of events, opportunities and networking. It aims to raise the profile and promote economic growth within the creative community.

East Riding of Yorkshire Council/ Business Services It is an enterprise agency which gives advice and guidance in starting a new business in the East Riding, including information about business plans, finance and record keeping, marketing and selling, business advisers and finding staff for your new business.

East Riding of Yorkshire Federation of Young Farmers’ Clubs Rural youth organisation with a philosophy of Fun, Learning and Achievement.

NFU – National Farmers Union It represents the farmers and growers of England and Wales. Its central objective is to promote successful and socially responsible agriculture and horticulture, while ensuring the long term viability of rural communities.

Visit Hull & East Yorkshire DMO It is the Yorkshire sub-region’s Destination Management Organisation (DMO).

Independent businesses Business

By comparing the list of the original members of the partnership to the last one, it emerges that the whole of the Local Action Group has retained the majority of its original members and their attending at the meetings, we can say that they have been very loyal and very committed to Coast Wolds Wetlands and Waterways as ‘they have continued to attend, dutifully, and to be more than willing to carry on with extra duties, extra working groups, extra committees, very strong commitment on the part of the original members of the LAG, most of whom are still here with us. So that’s continuity and understanding and recognition of how things have developed that would not have been possible if there had been a lot of change of membership but there hasn’t been’.



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