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Bids invited as county tries to secure Olympic legacy
Mon, 07 Jan 2013 8:57am
Bids invited as county tries to secure Olympic legacy

Bids are now being invited from projects for a £410,000 "cash pot" which will help secure an Olympic legacy for Leicestershire. Leicestershire County Council has approved plans to invest cash from under-spends and reserves to back projects, including support for sports clubs, schools and cycling schemes. From today (Monday, January 7th), sports clubs will be able to bid for money towards improving facilities and equipment, with a second pot helping them to provide additional coaching and staff training.

Ernie White, Cabinet member for health and sport, said: "The pots open on Monday and this is a terrific opportunity to ensure a sporting legacy lives on long after the Olympics and Paralympics.

"For individuals or groups, enjoying and sticking at a physical activity can be one of their 2013 resolutions and we've invested in a wide range of schemes which are as much about health as sport. It is all geared towards making Leicestershire a more healthy and active place in which to live."

New projects, which can support individuals or groups who make bids, are:

  • A club development programme, offering 50 clubs up to £2,000 each to expand their support for young people;
  • A club facilities improvement legacy fund, offering 15-20 clubs up to £7,500 each to buy small items of equipment;
  • Investing £44,000 to boost physical activity for pre-school children, by providing training, guidance and resources to up to 80 childcare providers;
  • Introducing free swimming lessons for five to 11-year-olds to encourage inactive young people to do more physical activity.

Proposed support for existing schemes includes:

  • £22,000 to support cycling events for children and families;
  • £15,000 to support motivational school visits by Olympians and Paralympians in county-wide Leicester-shire and Rutland Sport roadshows;
  • £2,000 to support physical activity in Knit and Natter" groups;
  • £10,000 for the sports apprentices scheme;
  • £2,000 to help local Games Makers take coaching and sports leadership qualifications;
  • £5,000 to expand the Go Gold scheme to fund talented local athletes;
  • £30,000 to support school games across the county.

Full details can be found at: http://www.lrsport.org/leicestershire-legacy-fund

The Legacy Bids, which will be open until mid-February, were officially launched at County Hall on Friday 4th January, backed by Team GB hockey player Alastair Wilson, who has played in the past two Olympics, and Jim and Sue Houghton, the Desford couple who won theBBC Sports Personality of the Year's 'Unsung Heroes' award.Wilson said: "It's been really exciting to be involved in the roadshow programme and it is fantastic news that the programme is continuing. "It's amazing to see the impact which London 2012 had and the excitement it is continuing to generate. I hope I can inspire more children and young people to take up a sport and chase the dream of going to an Olympics or Paralympics."

The Houghtons'BBCaward recognised their work with Desford in Sport, which has been supported by the County Council through a number of grants.

Broadband Leicestershire - Briefing Event
Thu, 03 Jan 2013 4:13pm
Broadband Leicestershire - Briefing Event

Is your internet stuck in the slow-lane?

What could you do with super-fast speed?

Leicestershire County Council, working with a range of partners, including District Councils, is seeking to improve broadband speeds across Leicestershire.

Local authorities and the Government will invest almost £8.5m. A supplier will be contracted in the summer 2013 and the rollout will take 2 years after this.

A briefing session has been organised to help communities and businesses get up to speed on the project.

This will be held on:

11th February 2013 - 6.30 - 8.00pm (refreshments available from 6.00pm) at Sparkenhoe Committee Room, Leicestershire County Council

This event is open to community broadband groups, Parish Councils and local businesses.

If you wish to attend please contact Kate Harvey (kate.harvey@leics.gov.uk, 0116 305 7016) and provide the following information:

Name; Village or Parish Council represented; business name (if relevant); email address.

The deadline for registration is Friday 25th January 2013.

If you have any specific queries regarding broadband please contact Matthew Kempson (broadband@leics.gov.uk, 0116 305 6179)

Grants for Village Shops & Post Offices
Wed, 12 Dec 2012 1:54pm
Grants for Village Shops & Post Offices

Grants and free advice to help village shops boost their businesses is on offer from a £30,000 county council scheme.

Leicestershire County Council is running a village shop support scheme, to help village shops and Post Offices survive the downturn and fend off superstores. It is offering free specialist advice, plus grants of up to £3,000.

One venue that has benefited is Woodhouse Eaves Post Office, which has developed a thriving art gallery.

Jennifer Cox, who runs the Gallery at the Post Office, said: "I'd encourage other traders to get support from this scheme – the council has been very helpful.

"We got a grant to convert a spare room into a gallery, where we display photos, paintings, prints, sculptures and scarves from 40 different artists, mainly from the local area. Over the last three months, our takings have trebled."

Lesley Pendleton, Cabinet member for rural affairs, said: "Our village shops and Post Offices are the lifeblood of our local economies and we've launched this scheme to help them survive and thrive.

"These shops provide essential services to people who can't get to their local market town. I would encourage shopkeepers to check out the advice that's on offer."

The council has commissioned Kerching Retail to offer the advice service. Corin Birchall from Kerching said: "This targeted scheme is helping shops to explore all the opportunities to help their businesses grow.

"Examples include revamping your window display, using a website or Facebook to communicate regularly with customers and launching a loyalty scheme."

The following, free services are available to Leicestershire rural retailers:

• 24 hour access to online training, support and assessment tools

• one-to-one email support or phone support

• face to face support, including retail assessments and analysis of window displays

Further details on the grants can be found here.

Further details on the expert retail advice can be found here.

£20k boost to Village Halls Programme
Thu, 06 Dec 2012 3:29pm
£20k boost to Village Halls Programme

The SHIRE Village Hall Grant scheme has received a £20,000 boost to support a wide range of improvement projects in village halls across rural Leicestershire. The additional County Council funds will support Leicestershire Rural Partnership priorities by enhancing rural community facilities and meeting places.

The scheme had closed to further applications in November, after all the funds were fully committed, but this new injection will mean that further initiatives can be supported this financial year.

The grants are available for works to extend, refurbish or carry out major improvements and repairs to existing village halls or to create new halls. They are jointly administered by the Rural Community Council (Leicestershire and Rutland) and Leicestershire County Council.

Cllr Lesley Pendleton, Chairman of the LRP said"Village halls are valuable community resources which provide a range of services and activities for local people. I am pleased that the Leicestershire Rural Partnership is able to help maintain and enhance these important assets for the use of future generations."

Applications are sought from village halls that have not received funding from the SHIRE Village Hall Grant scheme during 2012, and the closing date for applications is Monday 18th February 2013.

An application form and guidance notes are available from the Rural Community Council by emailing Kevin Butcher, Community Buildings Officer at kbutcher@ruralcc.org.uk

Tue, 04 Dec 2012 2:01pm
Grants for new public paths to help rural areas & businesses

Grants for the creation of new bridleways or footpaths – to attract visitors and improve local facilities - are on offer to communities, organisations and rural businesses. Natural England's £2 million 'Paths for Communities' scheme is now being highlighted by the Leicestershire Local Access Forum.

Farm shop-cafes or rural visitor venues could create walks as added-attractions; riding centres might gain more bridleways by getting footpaths upgraded; and villages could pursue new routes to make the local path network better connected and more attractive.

Forum Chairman Roy Denney said: "In numerous other counties multi-purpose routes for walkers, cyclists and horse-riders are attractions in their own right; the Tissington Trail being one classic example They boost the local economy with visitors using local shops, pubs, B&Bs, cycle hire and equestrian businesses.

"Natural England wants 'Paths for Communities' projects across the whole country. The Access Forum is keen to see partnerships come forward with suggested projects so that Leicestershire benefits from this opportunity."

The competitive scheme involves rural landowners and businesses working together on bids with community groups and local councils. Projects must also raise 25% 'match funding', which could include volunteer labour but not money from public sources.

The new public rights of way must be agreed with the relevant landowners, but the grant money can cover one-off payments to facilitate this. Projects must be completed by April 2014, favouring straight-forward bids with clear benefits and supportive landowners.

The scheme is for rural locations which means places with less than 10,000 population. Natural England has local grant officers to help partnerships with applications. Full details are on the web at: http://www.naturalengland.org.uk/ourwork/access/rightsofway/p4c.aspx
For additional information on the Paths for Communities scheme please contact the Natural England Local Grants Officer for the Midlands, Angela Smith on Mobile: 07900 608 329 or email: angela.smith@naturalengland.org.uk

For further information - Leicestershire Local Access Forum: The Access Forum is a statutory body that brings together representatives of all the different groups with interests in countryside access, including farmers and landowners, and users such as walkers and riders. The Forum is entirely independent although the County Council provides administrative support. For further information see: www.leicslaf.org.uk or email: information@leicslaf.org.uk

Food and Drink iNet offers free business support
Fri, 30 Nov 2012 8:39am
Food and Drink iNet offers free business support

Food and drink firms across theEast Midlandsare being urged to take advantage of free business support available from the Food and Drink iNet.

Part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), the iNet co-ordinates innovation support for businesses, universities and individuals working in the food and drink sector in the region.

The first element of that support is to meet and discuss business needs and provide impartial advice and guidance on how to grow through innovation. It can then lead to accessing grants and specialist expertise.

Since 2008, the iNet has given hundreds of hours of free advice to food and drink manufacturing firms across Derbyshire, Leicestershire, Nottinghamshire,Lincolnshire, Northamptonshire andRutland, which has led to innovation projects being launched.

The iNet is urging established small and medium-sized companies who work across the supply chain to get in touch to find out more about the help on offer.

In the past, the iNet has provided free 'business assist' support to a wide range of companies including bakers, butchers, chocolate makers, snack manufacturers, ice cream makers, and drinks manufacturers, as well as businesses that 'supply into' the sector, such as workwear specialists, consultants who work in the food and drink industry and those who manufacture items for the sector.

The Food and Drink iNet is managed by a consortium, led by The Food and Drink Forum and includingNottinghamTrentUniversity, theUniversityofLincoln, and theUniversityofNottingham. It is based atSouthgladeFoodPark,Nottingham, with advisors covering theEast Midlandsregion.

For more information about the iNet visit www.foodanddrink-inet.org.uk or contact the iNet on info@foodanddrink-inet.org.uk

New funding to help communities take control through enterprise
Wed, 28 Nov 2012 8:21am
New funding to help communities take control through enterprise

Rural communities across theUK are set to benefit from a new injection of funding to help them revive their villages through community enterprise. The Plunkett Foundation has been awarded over £450,000 from the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation to create a new comprehensive support service for rural communities considering setting up or diversifying community-owned services – like shops and pubs – to help turn the tide on rural decline.

The funding will provide a much needed boost for communities considering community ownership, and will provide a combination of adviser support, training, feasibility grants, and opportunities for networking with other community enterprises.

The support is specifically focused at the early stage of a community's ideas, and will help them progress to the next stage. Eligibility for support will depend on communities aiming to raise at least £10,000 themselves through community shares and support will be given to ensure communities are creating viable and sustainable businesses that engage the whole community.

This new service will open for applications on the 3rd December 2012, and Plunkett encourages rural communities who need support for their enterprises to contact them directly for more information via 01993 810730 or by emailing info@plunkett.co.uk

Celebration: Developing Local Solutions to Local Needs
Fri, 09 Nov 2012 12:15pm
Celebration: Developing Local Solutions to Local Needs

Date: Wednesday 28th November 2012, 6:30pm
Venue: The Salvation Army Conference Centre, Ladysmith Road (off Saffron Road) South Wigston LE18 4UZ.

Volunteers, community groups and community activists are warmly invited to attend a celebration to show-case successful community-led projects around Leicestershire and Rutland.

The event is to celebrate the fantastic achievements made in communities by community groups and volunteers; it will also be an opportunity to share good practice and promote community initiatives.

The programme will include inspirational speakers from successful community projects, information for voluntary and community groups about current funding opportunities, refreshments and a 'market place' with stalls.

In present times, with less funding and reductions in public services, communities are becoming more self-reliant, entrepreneurial and creative.

We hope this celebration will inspire community groups!

The event is part of the Big Society Network Project, a partnership between the Rural Community Council, Voluntary Action LeicesterShire and Voluntary Action Rutland.

Booking Essential to book a place, please follow the link: http://www.ruralcc.org.uk/uploads/developinglocalsolutions.htm

Or email Cath via: cwalker@ruralcc.org.uk or 0116 268 9711.

Neighbourhood Planning Networking Event
Wed, 07 Nov 2012 12:28pm
Neighbourhood Planning Networking Event

A Neighbourhood Planning Networking Event will be held at Leicestershire County Council on Tuesday 20th November 2012 starting at 5:30pm. The workshop is open to any communities thinking about developing a Neighbourhood Plan or that have started one. The workshop will include advice and good practice from current Leicestershire Front Runners on getting started, communication and how to organise a stakeholder event. Speakers include the Department of Communities and Local Government, Local Planning consultants supporting front runners and the Rural Community Council who can provide support and advice during the Neighbourhood Planning process. There will also be an opportunity to network with front runners, local planners and other communities interested in developing a Neighbourhood Plan to share positive experiences that can be recommended or discuss problems that have been encountered and how they were overcome.

If you would like to book a place please contact Sophie Davies at sophie.davies@leics.gov.uk or Sarah McCartney at sarah.mccartney@leics.gov.uk

New Homes Bonus for Sapcote residents
Fri, 26 Oct 2012 12:05pm
New Homes Bonus for Sapcote residents

A £1.6m scheme to develop twelve new affordable homes in the village of Sapcote has been completed.

East Midlands Housing Group has built the homes, with funding from Leicestershire County Council and Blaby District Council.

The houses were built on a rural exception site after a survey highlighted there were not enough affordable homes to enable local people to stay in the village. The site now includes three houses for shared ownership and eight houses and one bungalow for social rent.

Tanya has moved into one of the two-bedroom houses with her 11-month old daughter Skye:

"I was born and bred in Sapcote, but have been renting a house in Earl Shilton. I'm at college and have wanted to move back to the village so my parents can help with childcare, but couldn't afford the rent on other properties.

Now I'm here my parents are only on the next street and I'm able to get the bus to college. If I was still stuck in Earl Shilton I probably couldn't have continued with college for much longer so I'm really pleased to be living here."

LRP Chairman Cllr Lesley Pendleton said:

"We want our villages to thrive and I hope that a dozen families and couples will enjoy living in these new homes in Sapcote. This is the first rural affordable housing scheme that the county council has helped to deliver through its New Homes Bonus funding."

Blaby District Council Leader Ernie White said:

"It is important that we support our villages and these twelve affordable homes are reserved for people who have a strong local connection to Sapcote. I'm pleased that by working with the county council, we have been able to support this much needed development."

Leicestershire County Council is using New Homes Bonus funding to support more schemes in the future.

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