4. Presentation re Rural Community Development Fund by Helen Blackmore, Senior Rural Regeneration Officer, Vale of Glamorgan Council –
Helen Blackmore, Senior Rural Regeneration Officer, provided the Forum with a presentation on the Rural Community Development Fund (RCDF). The RCDF was a Welsh Government grant scheme open primarily to community groups. The indicative total grant fund available was £69m for 2015 - 2019. There would be an open call for funding requests every quarter, the first open call for funding was currently open and closed on 23rd May 2016. The indicative allocation for this period was £4m and the decision date for these expressions of interest was 15th August 2016. The intervention rate was 80% grant funded and 20% match funded. The maximum project value was £160,000, with a maximum grant of £128,000 from the RCDF. The grant was for capital only, however there was scope to include some revenue costs toward a capital build such as feasibility, planning fees etc. The funding was only open to rural wards in the Vale of Glamorgan as it was part of the Rural Development programme; therefore it was not available in Barry, Penarth or Llandough.
The three objectives of the RCDF were:
- To promote social inclusion, poverty reduction and economic development in rural areas
- To help with those most deprived in rural Wales and those with limited scope to change their circumstances
- To develop the resilience and capability of rural communities so they are better able to cope with and adapt to change.
There was a fairly strict criteria for the award of the funding; the proposals would be scored according to how well they would achieve the selection criteria.
The selection criteria were:
- To achieve effective community engagement during the development of the proposal
- To contribute to the aims and objectives of the RCDF, the Local Development Strategy and other Welsh Government strategies
- Improve access to services
- Address fuel poverty and ‘in work’ poverty
- Address digital exclusion.
To date, 15 applications had been received in the first round ranging from smaller to large scale projects. Welsh Government would not consider projects in excess of £160,000, unless it could be demonstrated that smaller elements of a project could be delivered in isolation. The grant application must be made directly from the community group to Welsh Government and be completed online. The Creative Rural Communities team could provide organisations with suggestions to help improve their submissions. The first round of submissions had recently been returned to the Local Action Group which would advise how the projects fitted in with the Local Action Strategy. The submissions would then be sent back to Welsh Government.
Mr. Traherne asked whether groups in the Vale of Glamorgan would be competing with those across Wales and was informed that they would be, however, they would be as eligible as other areas as long as they could demonstrate their eligibility against the criteria.
Ms. Haden asked where the 20% match funding would come from and who would carry out the work generated by a bid if the Forum were to put forward an expression of interest. In response, Mr. Teague advised that if the Forum could identify projects for user groups which may be interested in formulating a funding bid, the Vale Council would be interested in speaking with them. The Council had access to other grant funding for projects which had clear community public interest, for example, the Coastal Access Improvement Plan. Ms. Haden expressed concern in terms of timescales for the submission of bids as community consultation could take some time. In response Ms. Blackmore advised that although the first open call period closed on 23rd May it would be opened on a quarterly basis going forward.
Mr. Pittard asked whether submissions could be done through Community Councils and was informed that they could and it was confirmed that Valeways would be able to complete a bid with Ms. Blackmore advising that the fundings would only be for capital.
Ms. Nash queried whether the bridleways along the A48 would be eligible for a grant and was advised that any bid would need to meet the requisite criteria such as improving social poverty and the Public Rights of Way Team would be keen to look into an advanced bridleways projects.
Mr. Coleman queried the position in relation to support facilities for bridleways such as car parks. Mr. Teague advised that they would not be eligible for funding via the Public Rights of Way team, however, it might make a good project for the RCDF funding. It was also confirmed that the St. Athan Community Library Group had approached the Creative Rural Communities in relation to this funding. Welsh Government had ensured that the bids met with the Local Development Strategy objectives. Following a request from a Forum member, it was confirmed that a link to the Rural Community Development Fund information would be provided within the minutes, as below:
It was further confirmed that the Forum would be informed of community groups that expressed an interest in this grant funding
The Chairman thanked Ms. Blackmore for attending the Forum and for her informative presentation on the Rural Community Development Fund.