22 September 2015
The Chief Executive of Kilkenny County Council, Colette Byrne told the members of Kilkenny County Council at their meeting held on Monday 21st September last that the main objective of the Council should be to ensure that the €7.8 Million ring fenced for the County under the next LEADER programme is invested in the most effective and efficient manner for the benefit of the local people and communities of County Kilkenny.
Ms Byrne informed the Council that there is a competitive process underway for the delivery of the next LEADER programme in County Kilkenny. She said that both the Kilkenny Leader Partnership Limited (KLP) and the County Kilkenny Local Community Development Committee (LCDC) had submitted Expressions of Interest to the Department of the Environment to be the Local Action Group (LAG) to deliver the next LEADER Programme and that both submissions have been accepted. The LAG is in essence the term used to describe the contract holder for the LEADER programme in the local area. KLP and the LCDC will now prepare and submit their respective bids to be the LAG for County Kilkenny in the form of separate Local Development Strategies, which will essentially outline how each considers the €7.8 Million LEADER funding should be invested in the County over the next 6 years.
The Council were informed that it is the preferred approach of Government that the LCDC should be the LAG and that KLP should be the main implementing partner. Under this arrangement the County Kilkenny LCDC would have primary responsibility for:
- setting strategic priorities in the Local Development Strategy (LDS) for the LEADER programme;
- operating a Service Level Agreement (SLAs) with KLP;
- sanctioning final approval for project applications; and
- monitoring implementation of the programme.
KLP as the local development company would have primary responsibility for:
- lead preparation of the LDS
- carry out all work associated with delivering the LEADER Programme from issuing calls for proposals to submitting project recommendations to the County Kilkenny LCDC for full duration of Programme
- preparing and collating documentation for audit checks
While the County Kilkenny LCDC was formally established by the Council last year, it is independent of the Council and is a public-private partnership made up of representatives of:
- the community and voluntary sector, with nominees drawn from the newly established Public Participation Network (PPN),
- economic and social partners, such as the Kilkenny Chamber of Commerce and the Irish Farmers Association,
- State agencies such as the Department of Social Protection, Teagasc and the Education and Training Board, and the local authority.
The main aim of the LCDC is to improve the delivery of local development and community programmes. The LCDC aims to do this through:
- better strategic planning, and the Committee is currently preparing a Local Economic and Community Plan (LECP) to identify local development priorities for the County over the next 6 years; and
- better oversight of local development programmes, and the Committee is already doing this through a Service Level Agreement with KLP for the delivery of the new Social Inclusion and Community Activation Programme (SICAP), which tackles poverty and social exclusion.
Ms Byrne informed the Council that the County Kilkenny LCDC have agreed an approach to the preparation of their LDS for the LEADER Programme. It was noted that as per the selection process agreed by the Department, the County Kilkenny LCDC will be given a minimum of 6 months to prepare and submit their LDS. This effectively means that the earliest the LCDC will be expected to have their bid ready is mid-January.
The Council were informed that the County Kilkenny LCDC aims to complete its bid as early as possible and that they have already undertaken a great deal of necessary preparatory work on their bid through the preparation of the LECP. However, it was noted that further detailed consultations will need to be undertaken with a wide range of stakeholders in the coming weeks to glean their specific input into the Local Development Strategy for the LEADER Programme. Ms Byrne said while it is unfortunate that KLP and the County Kilkenny LCDC could not reach agreement, she understood the LCDC still remains open to working with KLP to develop a joint bid for the delivery of the LEADER Programme.