Cash for rural projects

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COMMUNITY groups needing money for major projects such as new buildings or play equipment can apply now for grants from Fenland District Council’s Rural Capital Fund.

The fund is aimed specifically at helping people who live outside the four market towns. It was launched last year when FDC set aside £600,000 for distribution over three years. In its first 12 months grants totally nearly £350,000 have been handed out; now the fund has been topped up by a further £200,000.

Groups can apply for grants of between £10,000 and £100,000. The money must be used for a project’s capital funding rather than revenue and can include funding for buildings, play facilities, vehicles or any other equipment. It is for projects whose benefit will last for more than one year.

To obtain a grant groups must match half the project’s total cost but that can be include “in-kind” funding such as volunteer time or free equipment. They must also prove that they are a properly constituted, non-profit-making organisation and demonstrate that they have consulted widely with local people on their proposal.

Communities that have already benefited from funding include Christchurch (£100,000 for a new village hall), Newton (£26,800 to improve the village hall’s facilities) and Parson Drove (£18,655 for a skate ramp),

Councillor Chris Seaton, FDC’s portfolio holder responsible for community development, said: “Fenland is a largely rural area and this fund was set up with the deliberate aim of ensuring that our smaller communities get their fair share of any money we have available to support local initiatives. Many different kinds of project could qualify for a grant and, as we are seeing already, the money can bring real benefits to our villages.”

(.) For full details about the fund and help in applying, call Hetty Thornton or Julie Randall in FDC’s community support team or e-mail hthornton@fenland.gov.uk or jrandall@fenland.gov.uk.