At his Policy and Resources Decision Day (16 June), Councillor Roy Perry approved plans to create the Rural Communities Fund following feedback from a series of five workshops held with parish and town councils.
Cllr Perry said: “Combining these four rural grants will make it far easier for rural communities to access the funds they need. There was a degree of overlap between the schemes, which made it inefficient and potentially confusing for applicants. We’re grateful for the feedback from parish and town councils to help streamline the process and help rural areas thrive and flourish.”
Councillor Edward Heron, the County Council's Rural Affairs Champion, said: “We’re committed to supporting rural communities; whether it is responding to flooding, supporting rural enterprises or improving countryside access. A combined grant scheme will support the culture of self-help within rural communities, and promote collaborative working with parish and town councils and other organisations to the benefit of local residents.”
The Rural Communities Fund has combined the Community Challenge Fund, the Flood Alleviation Scheme, the Rural Retailers and Community Enterprises Grant Scheme, and the Small Grants Scheme Countryside Access.
In the past two years the four grant schemes have allocated around £250,000 to 97 different projects, attracting match funding worth around £454,000, plus volunteer hours and in-kind support. Of the 97 projects, 59 have been led by town or parish councils receiving approximately £101,500.
To find out more about the Rural Communities Fund and how to apply visit www.hants.gov.uk/grants/ccbs-grants/rural-communities-fund.