EU funding for Leeds communities

Having been involved in Brussels in the negotiations on the EU’s new seven-year budget framework, it was fascinating to get an insight into a local community’s plans about how to make good use of it here in Yorkshire, when I attended a consultation workshop held in New Wortley Community Centre earlier this week.

Part of the deal in creating a single European market was to help less prosperous regions catch up. Over the years, Yorkshire & the Humber has done well out of European funding, not least the Regional Development Fund (for developing  infrastructure and new businesses) and the Social Fund (aimed at training, skills and  social inclusion).

The purpose of the meeting was to discuss  ideas for a Community-Led Local Development partnership in West Leeds, bringing together the  City Council with local community voluntary & private sector groups.

Richard Norton from Voluntary Action Leeds, Kerry Courtney, the Senior Project Officer from Leeds City Council, and Mark Law, Chief Executive Officer from the charity Barca Leeds, all gave excellent presentations. Then they sat down to discuss and share ideas with a wide cross section of local people and groups from inner east Leeds.

The three partnerships in Leeds will have over €340m (some £280m) to help small community-based projects. The money can be spent not just on physical infrastucture, but on activities directly aimed at helping  people such as the disabled or older unemployed over a seven-year period.

Projects must be new, innovative and not funded elsewhere or happening anyway. But one word of warning was mentioned:  “Europe is bureaucratically meticulous about wanting every sum to add up and every penny to be accounted for”!

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