THERE are fears among local public representatives that the next tranche of Leader funding, which has benefitted endless communities, will be greatly reduced.
Cllr Paul Hayes (SF) described Kay Keegan’s summary of the 2014-2020 West Cork Local Community Development committee (LCDC) as ‘excellent.’
He said: ‘It shows how nearly every town and village in West Cork has benefited from Leader funding.’ However, he said he feared that they are ‘looking at another budget cut.’
The Sinn Féin councillor suggested that the members of the Western Committee of Cork County Council should have in place ‘a plan to head that off.’
Kay Keegan informed the councillors that there has been ‘no indication of the next level of funding,’ but she did confirm that the Department of Local Government is liaising with the EU.
Cllr Hayes pointed out that the €500,000, which was used to set up a food hub in Carrigaline, had already helped an estimated 70 artisan producers in West Cork.
But he suggested that the Council’s own Economic Strategic Policy Committee, or SPC, should set up ‘incubator kitchens’ closer to West Cork because the majority of the artisan producers are based there.
‘There is clearly a demand to progress from the kitchen at home,’ he said, to a semi-professional kitchen before developing the product for sale or supply at national level.
Clodagh Henehan, the divisional manager for Cork County Council, said Cllr Hayes’s suggestion would be raised with the local authority’s economic development team.
She said: ‘The facility in Carrigaline is excellent. It is available 24 hours a day and can be booked right throughout the night. It is not that far from West Cork, In fact, up to last May – when the boundaries were changed – it was actually in West Cork.’