£326K Of European Funding For Rural Projects

Ten projects in rural areas of East Lothian and Midlothian, that will benefit tourism, communities and families, have received European funding worth £326K.

The Tyne Esk LEADER Programme received 18 applications for funding, 10 of which were approved, five declined and three deferred to a later date. Two of the approved projects were in Midlothian, receiving grants worth £85K.

Tourism provision in East Lothian will be improved by an award of nearly £14K to the Scottish Flag Trust to upgrade and enhance the Flag Heritage Centre and Saltire Memorial at Athelstaneford, the birthplace of the national flag. A new audio and lighting control system will be installed at the centre and the story of the flag told in six foreign languages to enhance the four-star tourist attraction.

The Aberlady Conservation Society has been awarded £26K for the reconstruction of an intricately carved Anglo-Saxon high cross, a fragment of which was found during the removal of the former Manse building in 1863.

The reconstruction of the five-metre high cross will be erected in the Memorial Garden adjacent to the medieval kirk together with interpretive artwork and panels. Promotional leaflets for both the local community and tourists explaining the history of the cross will also be produced.

Councillor Barry Turner, the Council's representative on the Local Action Group that decides project funding, said: "We were very impressed with the quality of applications received and members of the group had long discussions about which should receive funds. The final decisions were difficult. However, we are confident that we have chosen worthwhile projects that will be of great benefit to rural areas in both counties."

The Association of East Lothian Community Councils has been awarded nearly £52K for a grant scheme that will fund community projects of less than £1,000, which are not eligible for mainstream LEADER grants.

Other projects funded include £3.6K to East Lothian Tourism Attractions Group to showcase the county at various events with the aim of attracting more visitors and increasing tourist revenues. East Lothian Council has been awarded £50K to provide grants to community groups and organisations in East Lothian to stage events for the Year of Homecoming 2009.

Communities will benefit from three projects: Prestonpans Community Centre has been awarded £2.7K to provide a community caf and play area for visitors. Crossreach Counselling: Lothians has been awarded £50K to provide counselling for families. Garvald Village Hall Trust has been awarded £34K to upgrade the village hall.

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