A £1.2 MILLION investment has been announced by West Lindsey District Council to encourage local people to develop community enterprises.
The Community Asset Fund is part of the council’s commitment to ‘help
people help themselves’. The council hopes that the fund will inspire local people to start community enterprises in their areas and make West Lindsey the home of community enterprise.
Cllr Jeff Summers said: “Simply awarding grant after grant is not sustainable.
We need to use what funds we do have in a creative way to attract further funding. We strongly believe social enterprises are a really good way to achieve this for our local communities.”
Community enterprises are businesses like shops, pubs or village halls set up by and for the benefit of local communities. There has been a huge rise in community enterprises in England and Wales in the last five years as more communities become inspired to help themselves.
• An estimated 400 commercial village shops close each year – community ownership saves around 5 per cent
• Around 1,300 pubs close each year, 700 of which are in rural areas
In West Lindsey, local examples of community enterprise include Caistor Arts and Heritage Centre, which was part of the Village SOS series, and Tealby community village shop. Both were the vision of local people and now serve as thriving social hubs for their communities.
The council has teamed up with national partners, CAN, and the Plunkett Foundation to manage the investment.
The partnership will attract additional finance and support from other national funds to help local individuals and groups to:
• Open or refurbish community buildings
• Develop community infrastructure such as shops, pubs, or local transport
The priorities for which projects should receive support will come through the dedicated work the council is doing with each area of the district as part of its Supporting Community Action campaign.
There will not be a standard ’bidding’ process with application forms, an Advisory Panel will judge the viability of projects and the support required by the local communities involved. The panel will include representatives from CAN, Plunkett, Community Lincs and the council.
Cllr Jessie Milne and Cllr Anne Welburn were involved in the tendering process for the project.
Cllr Welburn said: “We are delighted to be working closely with CAN and the Plunkett Foundation. They are both ideally placed to help us deliver this ambitious project. We are confident they will help us in our on-going campaign to Support Community Action. CAN is a registered charity, it trades as a social enterprise and they have a proven track record of developing sustainable social business. The Plunkett Foundation specialise in supporting rural businesses, which is ideal for West Lindsey.”
The partners strongly believe in the power of community enterprise to empower and connect local communities, whilst also stimulating other business, employment and volunteering in areas.
Kate Markey Deputy Chief Executive of CAN said: "The vision and ambition for this fund go to the heart of CAN’s mission which is to help individuals and community groups develop enterprising solutions for their communities.
“We look forward to working with communities to identify enterprising opportunities and bringing our expertise, network and experience in partnership with the Plunkett Foundation to support local people in their ambitions.”
James Alcock, Community Retail Manager of Plunkett Foundation, said: “We’re delighted to be working on a project that will help communities in West Lindsey to take control of the issues affecting them through community ownership, be that by setting up a community shop, pub, or other rural enterprise.”
• Communities will have the opportunity through local events and support to encourage them to start a community enterprise in their area
• There will be plenty of support, business and financial advice
• Opportunities for mentoring from other community enterprises outside West Lindsey
The initial fund will last for three years and is only available to benefit West Lindsey communities.
If you have an idea for a community enterprise, you can register your interest by visiting: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/West_Lindsey_Community_Ideas