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LAG celebrate £4.6million rural development success in borough

The success of the LEADER Rural Development Programme in Mid and East Antrim has been marked at a closure event for the Mid and East Antrim Local Action Group (MEA LAG).

A total of £4.6million has been invested into projects that support rural businesses, communities and villages, creating 70 jobs.

The programme supported 42 businesses under the Rural Business Investment Scheme with almost £1.5 million being awarded to complete a diverse range of projects.

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Under the Village Renewal Scheme 18 villages in the borough benefitted from £2.55 million to complete 22 projects. This included new playparks, community hubs, halls, outdoor spaces, gardens and much more.

MEA Local Action Group Board Members with Mayor Cllr William McCaughey at the Braid recently.

The Mid and East Antrim Local Action Group is funded under Priority 6 (LEADER) of the Northern Ireland Rural Development Programme 2014-2020 by the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs, and the European Union.

It is administered by Mid and East Antrim Borough Council, Investment & Funding and is made up of 23 members – 12 social representing, business, farming and community sectors and 11 elected members.

The Basic Services Scheme funded seven projects with funding of over £330k to establish central hubs to be used in bringing the local community together.

Lastly the Co-operation Scheme received a total funding of £246k to enable the completion of four projects.

Local Action Group Board Members with over 20 years service at a reception held by Mayor Cllr William McCaughey

This included new walking trails in Broughshane and Drum wood. These projects will enhance the access to our countryside for the local community and for visitors to our borough.

With the Rural Development Programme now ended, LAG members met for their final Board meeting to celebrate its successful completion and reflect on its achievements.

The Mayor of Mid and East Antrim, Councillor William McCaughey said: “It has been my pleasure to personally acknowledge and congratulate the members of Mid and East Antrim’s Local Action Group.

“All 23 members should be rightly proud of their achievements. Social Partners from business, farming and community sectors have given countless voluntary hours over the years working alongside 11 elected members. Their delivery of the LEADER programme has brought significant benefits to our rural dwellers and communities across the Borough.

“I thank them all and hope that our rural communities will continue to benefit from their expertise in the future.”

Mid & East Antrim LAG Chair, Kelli McRoberts said: “£4.6 million of funding from DAERA, has been utilised in helping us grow the local economy in a sustainable manner. To date 70 jobs have been created.

“The funding has enabled us to improve a range of services and infrastructure, creating vibrant rural communities and working in partnership with neighbouring Councils and cross border partners in Waterford.

“I want to congratulate my fellow Board members for their time and commitment over the years, not just for this programme, some of us have served with former LAGs.

“We are all immensely proud of what has been achieved and of the LAG’s lasting legacy in our rural communities,” she said.

Rural Affairs Minister Edwin Poots MLA said: “The LAG Board should be immensely proud of all that it has achieved in the delivery of this Programme and how well it has worked as a team to successfully achieve its goal in investing in and improving the lives of rural communities.

“I want to pay recognition to the LAG Board members and all Council and DAERA staff who worked in any capacity on the delivery of the LEADER Programme for their co-operation, diligence and hard work.

“I wish you every success in your future endeavours.”

Anyone who would like to find out more or register their interest in future rural funding opportunities can email [email protected] or telephone 028 25633266.