In 2008, the Lindsey Action Zone (LAZ) was awarded £2m to support project applications for rural development through the Rural Development Programme for England (RDPE) LEADER (*) approach. All funds were successfully allocated to a range of rural development projects and the fund closed in December 2013. LAZ is currently in a "transition" year. It is evaluating the last programme in order to learn lessons before consulting with local stakeholders to form a new strategy and to submit an application for funds from the EU/defra LEADER programme 2015-2020.
LAZ LEADER RDPE funding is a European Union initiative delivered through Defra. Lincolnshire County Council, East Lindsey District Council, West Lindsey District Council also contribute financially to the programme.
In 2008, Lincolnshire County Council worked with local residents and organisations to form a Local Action Group (LAG) partnership based in a geographical area now known as the Lindsey Action Zone (LAZ) to bid for funding from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA).
The LAG developed a Local Development Strategy (LDS) which was implemented by instigating and supporting projects to apply for funding through the LEADER Approach element of the Rural Development Programme for England.
The LAZ Vision
In 2008-2013, the LAZ Local Action Group's vision was that:
"The Lindsey Action Zone recognises the importance of sustaining and developing an improved quality of life for its residents and visitors through encouraging economic and social development that recognises and works in harmony with the deeply rural character of the Lindsey area. It aims to maintain and enhance this vision into the future, particularly in identifying and tackling the effects of rural isolation and lagging neighbourhoods. It will enable the area to achieve its potential and become:
- Increasingly self-sufficient
- an area renowned for high quality
- well known for its local character and special features
- sustainably developed
- a welcoming and attractive place to live, work, invest and visit"
Objectives and Priorities of the scheme
The Lindsey Action Zone LAG summarised its objectives as follows:
- To sensitively make the most of the environmental, landscape and heritage assets across the LAZ area including those within the Lincolnshire Wolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, Lincolnshire Limewoods and market towns.
- To support the growth of new business, and new business activities, in the land based sector and beyond, placing an increased emphasis on climate change mitigation and adaptation.
- To develop a clear tourist product and help to promote the range of quality facilities available to visitors throughout the area.
- To enable young people to see their futures in the area through increasing training and employment opportunities.
- To harness the goodwill, energy, and expertise of partners in the area to deliver the shared vision
- To support the sustainable diversification of land based businesses into alternative activity and facilitate the creation and development of current and emerging small businesses
- To implement a best practice approach to encouraging visitors and to visitor management through improved promotion, interpretation, and attractions
- To promote the role of market towns as gateways to the Lincolnshire Wolds, Lincolnshire Limewoods and surrounding areas
- To promote links with agriculture via landscape management and regional and local food promotion.
- To involve the community in conserving, enhancing and interpreting their local environment and cultural heritage.
- To provide training, advice and information which enables the area’s demographic groups to improve their existing skill levels and make a positive contribution to economic, environmental and social life
- To co-operate with similar rural areas, learning from their experiences and using partnership working to enrich community activities within and beyond the Lincolnshire Wolds.
- To continue working with other common interest groups to enrich and develop new community activities across the LAZ.
The LEADER Approach
The Lindsey Action Zone (LAZ) Local Action Group (LAG) partnership was formed in 2008 using the LEADER approach. The LEADER Approach is thought to be an effective tool to assist rural communities to improve the quality of life and economic prosperity in their local area by:-
- Engaging communities in developing their own plans for the future
- Generating a bottom-up, participative approach to solving local issues
- Developing new business and social opportunities
- Improving local capacity and governance
'LEADER' is a European Union initiative for assisting rural communities to improve the quality of life and economic prosperity in their local area. It was introduced as a 'Community initiative' financed under the EU Structural Funds. LEADER is now part of the Rural Development Programme for England (RDPE), which is administered by the Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), In the regions, the Regional Development Agencies (RDAs) have the responsibility for delivering the RDPE, and therefore the LEADER initiative.
In 1991 LEADER 1 provided rural communities in the EU with the resources to play an active role in shaping their own future. Information gained from evaluations and rural stakeholders indicates that the LEADER approach worked well in quite different situations and types of areas. There have been three generations of Leader: Leader I (1991–93), Leader II (1994–99) and Leader+(2000–06).
Through LEADER EU rural policy-making has adapted well to the extreme diversity of rural areas’ needs in Europe. For these reasons, it has now become an integral part of European rural development policy. For the 2007-13 programming period LEADER is no longer a separate programme but has been integrated (‘mainstreamed’) into all national/regional Rural Development Programmes. New possibilities have been opened for the LEADER approach to be applied on a far wider scale and across a much broader range of rural development activities than before.
To understand more about the LEADER approach there is a useful European Commission document called "The LEADER approach - A Basic Guide", which is available to download by clicking the link.
* The LEADER acronym means ‘Links between rural development actions’ (from the French - Liaisons entre actions de developpement rural).