The Vale of Usk Rural Development Programme (RDP) – a partnership between Monmouthshire and Newport councils to promote rural communities and businesses and increase prosperity – is to examine initiatives to support valued services over the next five years.  The RDP has started work to identify those non-statutory services at risk, yet treasured by residents, and examine ways to ensure they can continue.  The community has been invited to indicate their priorities and suggest proposals that will aid the project.

The RDP team will consider options to maintain local services at risk including public/private initiatives, partnerships between local authorities or with other organisations, developing different business models or sharing facilities and delivery costs – an example of this is the increasing diversity of use in some community halls.

Initiatives like the Three Fields Community Trust site at Undy have already achieved success.  Community consultation funded under the RDP has revealed support for combining a rail infrastructure project with multi-use community facilities to create a rural hub in a developing part of the county.

RDP board member Alastair Robertson has also publicly welcomed a complementary proposal to develop a community toolkit providing guidelines to enable local activists to create ideas for exploration and testing.  The Local Development Strategy that the RDP’s Vale of Usk Local Action Group will manage over the next five years will only work successfully, he says: “if the initiative and the ideas come from the rural communities themselves.”

The project has received funding through the Welsh Government Rural Communities Rural Development Programme 2014-2020, which is funded by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development and the Welsh Government.

Further information on the programme and funding is available at www.valeofusk.org – the community is asked to use the contact form on the website to specify priorities they place on local services and to inform the RDP of any ideas for projects linked to maintaining these services.