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Agenda Item No

 

The Vale of Glamorgan Council

 

Cabinet Meeting: 13 January, 2014

 

Report of the Cabinet Member for Regeneration, Innovation, Planning & Transportation

 

The Rural Development Plan for Wales (2014-2020)

 

Purpose of the Report

1.         To seek Cabinet approval to submit an expression of interest (EOI) to Welsh Government for the Council to act as the Lead Body in the formation of a Vale of Glamorgan Local Action Group (LAG) under the Rural Development Plan for Wales 2014-2020 (RDP).

Recommendations

1.         That Cabinet approves the submission of an Expression of Interest to the Welsh    Government for the Council to act as the Lead Body in the formation of a Vale of Glamorgan Local Action Group.

2.         That full details including staffing and any match funding implications are reported to Cabinet prior to submission of a full bid and acceptance of any grant funds. 

3.         That Cabinet accepts Welsh Government pre development costs as part of this stage one EOI.

Reasons for the Recommendations

1.         To enable the Council to access development costs and for Welsh Government to confirm eligibility to apply for full LAG status at stage 2 of the process in July 2014.

2.         To agree final specific details after negotiations with the Welsh Government are concluded and authorise the essential delivery and running costs for projects and the LAG.

3.         To enable the Council to best prepare a Local Development Strategy.

Background

2.         Creative Rural Communities, the Council led Rural Regeneration partnership, currently delivers a £7.7 million programme under the Rural Development Plan for Wales (2007-2013). This programme has been extended until December 31st 2014 due to delays at a European Union (EU) level in the agreement on reform of the Common Agriculture Policy.

3.         The Programme is overseen in the Vale of Glamorgan by a multi sector Rural Partnership and a LAG, essentially a separate board from across the community focussing on the delivery of part of the programme. The Council is the lead body for the Partnership and LAG, employing staff and carrying out all management and financial roles.

4.         The Local Development Strategy (LDS) for the Rural Vale covering the period 2007-2013 is the framework for the delivery of RDP funded regeneration and was approved by the Welsh Assembly Government in 2007.  It was reviewed in 2009.

5.         The 5 core themes for the 2007-11 LDS are:

·           Community capacity building

·           Developing the roles of women and young people in rural regeneration

·           Business networking and cooperation

·           Access to, and provision of, basic services in rural communities

·           Making the best use of resources.

6.         The current LDS for the Rural Vale is delivered partially through Axis 3 of the current RDP and partially through LEADER (Axis 4). LEADER is a particular strand of regeneration under the RDP essentially focusing on community led and innovative activities at a very local level.

7.          Under the current programme, LEADER or Axis 4 projects include pilot projects to stimulate the development of campsites along the Glamorgan Heritage Coast. Several of these pilot campsites are now permanent with one alone generating £250,000 for the local economy during the 2013 season.

8.         Several other Axis 4 projects have been aimed at business support activities such as                  local food development and new activities along the heritage coast. Walking is also seen as a priority under Leader as an untapped economic opportunity for the County.

 

9.         The development of the Glamorgan Heritage Coast as a destination has formed a        major part of the 2013 work programme. Economic outcomes are the priority in all projects and in most cases work carried out under LEADER can lever in significant grant funding when mainstreamed. Many of these improvements have been implemented at Council owned sites.

 

10.      LEADER funding interventions can act as an effective way of piloting new activities at a relatively low cost that can then lead to the mainstreaming of these activities. This could in turn result in cost savings for the council in areas such as basic service delivery such as Libraries, education, transport etc.

Relevant Issues and Options

11.      Following an extensive consultation period, Welsh Government has set out its proposals for the delivery of the LEADER element of funding under the 2014-2020 RDP. It plans to remove the need for both a Partnership and a LAG overseeing LEADER, replacing it with only the need for a LAG. It is as yet unclear how Axis 3 2ill be delivered locally. In the Vale's current RDP delivery programme Axis 3 provides for substantial grants for local businesses and community groups.  The overall amount of funding to be delivered locally could therefore be substantially reduced.

12.      The Welsh Government has called for an EOI from all eligible rural areas in Wales to form LAGs to deliver the new LEADER programme. The wards deemed eligible for rural funding support remain unchanged, so the Vale of Glamorgan has retained rural status across 10 wards (essentially the whole Vale with the exception of Barry, Penarth and Llandough).

13.      This is the first stage in an iterative process leading to the establishment of LAGs and the development and approval of a new LDS.

14.      The EOI will provide an explanation of how the proposed Vale of Glamorgan LAG will meet the EU requirements relating to membership structure, partners and population thresholds.

15.      Local Development Strategies under LEADER in Wales will need to demonstrate how they connect to Single Integrated Plans of Local Service Boards, integrate with the use of other European Structural Funds and Investment (ESI) funds and relate to the delivery of national priorities for tackling poverty and delivering growth.

16.      Preparatory costs to develop the LDS will be available from Welsh Government.

17.      The EOI will set out the initial priority areas for the LAG from a list of 5 supplied by the Welsh Government. These are:

·           Adding value to local identity and natural and cultural resources.

·           Facilitating pre commercial development, business partnerships and short supply chains.

·           Exploring new ways of providing non-statutory services.

·           Renewable energy at a community level.

·           Exploitation of digital technology.

Resource Implications (Financial and Employment)

18.      Funding for current staff within the Vale's Rural Programme is approved until December 31st 2014 for project delivery and 30th June 2015 for project evaluation and closure. The current programme is matched by the Council and by recipients of grants given to third parties.  The Council's match funding is partially in kind from management costs etc., and partially in finance, most of which comes from the current Capital Programme.  Council cash match funding totals £394,000 against the total programme value of £7.7 million (2007-2013).  Other sources include grant recipients and SEWTA. We anticipate match funding needs to remain at approximately the same levels for the new programme with the intervention rate on LEADER funding set at 80%. External sources of match funding will also be investigated.

19.      Estimated costs for the preparation of the LDS at stage 2 will be submitted as part of this expression of interest, and Welsh Government will provide for development costs. Clarification has been sought from the Welsh Government on eligible costs.

20.      Final specific financial details of running costs for projects and the LAG will be presented to Cabinet at a later meeting prior to full submission and acceptance of grant.

Sustainability and Climate Change Implications

21.      There are no sustainability or climate change implications at this initial EOI stage. Renewable energy at a community level is likely to form a priority in the submission. The current programme has focussed very much on assisting communities to be more sustainable by investing in facilities, building capacity of communities, and facilitating growth in local businesses.

 

Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)

22.      As with the current programme, the Council will be expected to enter into a funding agreement in respect of LAG status and pre development costs.

Crime and Disorder Implications

23.      There are no crime and disorder implications.

Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)

24.      Locally delivered regeneration empowers local communities and equality of access will be central to delivery of a future programme.

Corporate/Service Objectives

25.      The expression of interest will have to state how it will align the LDS (2014-2020) to the Single Integrated Plan of the Local Service Board.

Policy Framework and Budget

26.      This is a matter for executive decision by Cabinet.

Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)

27.      The current Rural Partnership and LAG have been consulted on the proposed way forward.

28.      An outline engagement strategy will include proposals for the participation of private, public and voluntary sectors. The new LAG will be expected to set out how these sectors and local people will be given an opportunity to engage in the preparation of the LDS.

Relevant Scrutiny Committee

29.      Economy and Environment

Background Papers

Full details of the call for new LAGs can be found at http://wales.gov.uk/topics/environmentcountryside/farmingandcountryside/cap/ruraldevelopment/rural-development-plan-for-wales-2014-2020/leader-local-action-group/?lang=en.

The guidance on the application process 'Leader 2014-2020 Expressions of Interest to form a Local Action Group Guidance' is also attached as Appendix 1.

 

Contact Officer

Phil Chappell, Principal Rural Regeneration Officer.

 

Officers Consulted

Operational Manager, Countryside & Economic projects

Capital Accountant

Head of Performance & Development

Legal (committee reports)

 

Responsible Officer:

Rob Thomas - Director, Development Services

 

 

 

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