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Market town scheme is flying

PUBLISHED: 19:33 13 June 2003 | UPDATED: 14:00 03 March 2010

A SMALL scheme aimed at kick-starting projects to regenerate a Suffolk village has been a runaway success.

The Debenham Market Town Initiative has managed to unlock hundreds of thousands of pounds in grant aid for projects in the village in the two years since it was started.

A SMALL scheme aimed at kick-starting projects to regenerate a Suffolk village has been a runaway success.

The Debenham Market Town Initiative has managed to unlock hundreds of thousands of pounds in grant aid for projects in the village in the two years since it was started.

By the time it finishes in less than a year's time, it is expected to have attracted five times more matching grant aid than expected.

The project was given a "pot" of £50,000 by the Countryside Agency and The East of England Development Agency to invest in a range of schemes aimed at ensuring the economic viability of the village.

The aim was to attract at least twice that amount – £100,000 – from other funders into the projects.

So far, £33,000 of the MTI money has been invested, and brought in nearly £400,000 from other sources.

By the time the entire £50,000 is spent, it is expected to have attracted £600,000 in other grants.

A delighted Roger Turkington, the co-ordinator of the scheme, said he was "very pleased" at how well it had worked in attracting funding for potential projects the villagers had highlighted in their village appraisal.

"It's exceeded everybody's expectations. The general feeling amongst the community is it's a fantastic achievement," he said.

The initiative has worked on a number of projects including: a website containing information on the village; renovating village railings; a major revamp of the leisure and community centre car park; a village resource centre; and a woodlands and waterways project to be managed by the community with the help of the Green Light Trust.

The relatively small pot of MTI money managed to lever much larger funds into some of the projects, explained Mr Turkington.

"What you find is once you have got one or two funds lined up, that gives your project credibility."

The idea is there will be long-term financial spin-offs to the investment in the village, he said. By making it more attractive to residents and visitors, the hope is that they will spend more time and more money in it.

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