LAG Funding Safe Until End Of 2013

LAG Manager, Amanda Pender

The Local Action Group say their money is safe until the end of 2013, despite the turmoil in the Eurozone.

LAG Manager, Amanda Pender, says the money is ring-fenced until then, although there is still no word on what will replace it after that.

It was recently announced that Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly will remain classed as a “convergence” area after failing to meet development targets set by the EU.

Amanda says new funding programmes are being worked on and outside events may affect that but she’s sure any future funding will have some form of local element.

Amanda says 75% of LAG money, around £1.5m is now committed and she hopes the rest will be allocated to projects by September.

There’s around £400,000 left with £200,000 of that having to go to agriculture projects, although that could increase over the next year, says Amanda, if funded projects underspend.

Amanda says there have been some tricky issues over funding, particularly competition with existing business. She says in such a small community, it’s normally very obvious if there is another business or service that could be ‘displaced’ by the funded project.

She says they normally recommend the applicant talks to that business as, in many cases, they can sort the issue out amicably.

She said that happened when the Handmade Fudge Co on St Mary’s applied for money. They talked to Bryher fudge maker, Kris Taylor, who didn’t see it as a problem.

However, in some cases, the projects have been rejected for obvious competition reasons.

Amanda says the question of competition is interesting in Scilly. Some people think in a small market there shouldn’t be any competition while another school of thought says Amanda, is that competition is good and will improve standards.

Another thorny issue arose when two LAG-funded businesses on Bryher started selling overlapping goods. Amanda said the businesses spoke to each other and worked it out so LAG didn’t have to intervene.

We also put it to Amanda that people might just be coming up with ideas to spend the money available.

Amanda says it’s very hard to quantify need and admits that might be happening but added it isn’t necessarily a bad thing if it’s stimulating ideas that wouldn’t have been there.

She said there are a number of business projects funded such as Pernic Forge, which now offers various metal services that wouldn’t have been there without LAG funding.

Amanda says a lot of her time is spent supporting people to deliver what they said they would. LAG won’t sign off until they do and Amanda says they have threatened to ask for the money back from some projects.

Another seven projects were considered for funding this month. Letters are currently going out to applicants including a project to produce sea salt on St Martin’s, which received £10,200 and the Isles of Scilly Diving Air Services, who got £18,000 for a shared compressor on the quay. This will allow divers in Scilly to fill air cylinders to a higher pressure.