PEOPLE in a cluster of former mining villages will be invited to come together soon and kick-start the process of spending a £1m lottery windfall aimed at transforming their communities.
A series of public meetings are planned within the next few weeks, at which residents of Lynemouth, Ellington, Linton and Cresswell will be able to find out more about the major funding boost – and how they can get involved in deciding spending priorities.
The villages – all in the shadow of the doomed 500-job Alcan aluminum smelter – are among 50 “forgotten areas” of the country chosen to benefit from the final £200m round of grants from the lottery’s Big Local programme.
They have been selected for assistance because they have major social and economic needs, and have missed out on funding and investment in the past.
The Big Local programme is being delivered by the national charity Local Trust, whose North East representative, Guy Noakes, will work with residents in the Lynemouth area on how to spend the £1m over the next decade.
Later this month and early next, several public meetings will be held to inform villagers about the programme, after which a Big Local steering group will be set up – including residents – to identify priorities and draw up an action plan over the next 12 to 18 months.
The plan will then have to be approved by Local Trust at a national level to unlock the funding, which will be spent on local projects over the ensuing eight years.
The funding can be used for anything from training and employment schemes, to tackling anti-social behaviour, creating new community facilities or providing more activities for young people.
Yesterday Mr Noakes described it as “an opportunity and a challenge” for the area, and the ultimate aim was to make people feel better about the communities they live in.
“The Big Local programme is all about residents being enabled and empowered to control the process and prioritise what is important to them, and that is not necessarily something that happens quickly.
“People in Lynemouth will be brought together to come up with their vision for the area and produce a plan over the next year to 18 months. The outcomes are not just about improving the area, but also things that give people more skills and confidence.”
Andrew Gooding, manager of the Lynemouth Development Trust, said: “The first stage is informing local people about the process, how it’s going to work, what the time frames are, what is hoped to be achieved and how they can get involved effectively.
“The village meetings will look at broad objectives rather than specific projects at this stage, because this is a 10-year programme.
“Eventually the Lynemouth Big Local group will come up with a rolling action plan.”
Lynemouth is the first community in Northumberland to receive funding from the Big Local programme, which has previously handed out grants to 100 others across the country.
Local county councillor, Milburn Douglas, said: “Lynemouth and the surrounding villages really need this sort of funding, and it will be very well received. I don’t think there will be any shortage of projects for this money to be spent on.”