South Scotland MSP and Scottish Labour’s Spokesperson for Constitution, Europe and External Affairs Colin Smyth has called on the Scottish and UK Governments to work together to provide a long-term replacement for the EU LEADER programme.
LEADER is a European rural development programme, adopting a grass-roots, bottom-up approach which allows communities to apply for funding based on innovation, need and demand.
The programme, which has been a vital funding source for rural areas for decades, is now coming to an end with no replacement forthcoming.
Colin Smyth raised the matter with Constitution Secretary Michael Russell recently in the Scottish Parliament.
Colin Smyth told the Scottish Parliament: “One of the most important EU funding streams for Scotland’s rural and coastal communities has been the LEADER programme.
“The current programme is ending and, sadly, there are no proposals for long-term support for the types of innovative community projects that LEADER has supported in the past three decades.
“Does the Scottish Government support a long-term replacement for LEADER, and how could that goal be achieved, now that those EU funding streams are coming to an end?”
Michael Russell told the local MSP that the UK Government has not brought forward any details of a replacement for the LEADER programme.
Speaking after the question session, Colin Smyth said: “The fact that the LEADER programme is coming to an end after all this time without an alternative is very concerning.
“I am calling on the Scottish and UK Governments to work together to do all they can to ensure that the good work which has been carried out across the south of Scotland by this programme is not lost.”