Community groups “battered into submission” by LEADER application process

Information workshops are to be arranged for local groups who wish to apply for LEADER funding this year, after councillors complained that community groups are getting buried in paperwork during the application process.

Speaking at last week’s county council meeting, Cllr John Shaw (FF ) said that the excessive amount of paperwork involved is putting people off applying, and that small community organisations have been hit with bank charges and huge interest for loans as they wait to draw down the funding.

Cllr John Dolan (FG ) said he knew of one group that had spent €12,000 on interest alone, and another case where paperwork had repeatedly gone missing.

“It got to the stage where the secretary had to go up to the office and submit the paperwork by hand and get it verified there and then.

“Efficiency is key - I have seen it administered more efficiently in other counties,” he added.

Cllr Andrew Duncan (FG ) said community groups are being “battered into submission”.

Responding to councillors’ comments, senior executive officer Hugh O’Reilly said he was concerned at the delays and admitted that bridging funding is an issue.

He said the council was looking at streamlining the process as much as possible, and that information sessions would be held for community groups and any councillors who wished to attend.

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