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28 December 2006

Lottery Grants Paid Out in North-East Increase 150-Fold

by Andrew Kellock, Press & Journal

The level of lottery grants paid to good causes in Banff and Buchan has shot up a staggering 150-fold in just two years.

The total for awards has soared since a series of awareness roadshows was run to give local groups advice on how to bid for cash.

Figures released by the Scottish Parliament's library have revealed the Big Lottery Fund paid out just £3,880 in the Banff and Buchan area in the 2003/04 financial year.

The following year the figure had jumped to £29,862. And in 2005/06 it was a whopping £588,369.

Local MSP Stewart Stevenson has been campaigning for organisations in his constituency to win a bigger slice of the cash on offer, and, in 2004, he organised a lottery roadshow.

He invited all the funding bodies to sent representatives and host information stands.

The event was a huge success and queues formed outside the venue before it started.

Mr Stevenson said: "I am thrilled by this news. It shows that things are clearly moving in the right direction, and I am delighted for all the local organisations which have benefited.

"Three years ago I set out to try to address the funding imbalance which existed with the lottery.

"That was partly down to lack of awareness on the part of the funders, but also due to a lack of readily available advice for local organisations as the lottery funders had their bases some way away from us, making it easy for city-based groups to access advice, but not so easy for those in the north-east.

"I am pleased that the financial support awarded by the Big Lottery Fund to Banff and Buchan projects is showing a very healthy upwards trend.

"I know from my travels around my constituency that lottery funding is put to very good use indeed, and I will be working hard to support local organisations to ensure that this continues."

One of the big winners in the awards made during 2005/06 was a community cafe project in the village of St Combs, near Fraserburgh, which landed a £180,000 grant.

Earlier this month, the Maud-based community computer and information technology learning scheme Bites was awarded £286,000 to help it move to new premises and employ extra staff.

In the summer, the Buchan Development Partnership hosted a forum in Hatton to give local groups an insight into ways of boosting their funds.

The Big Lottery will make £257million available to projects across Scotland over the next three years.

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