The Local Heritage Initiative has been wound up.
It was set up in 2000 as a semi-official body to provide mid-range funds between £3000 and £25,000, intended to act between the Awards for All Fund for grants up to £10,000 and the National Heritage Fund for grants over £5,000. The LHI was a joint body established by the Countryside Agency, the Heritage Lottery Fund, and the Nationwide Building Society, and over the 6 years that it operated, it awarded over £22 million to help over 1400 communities to investigate, explain and care for their local heritage.
However the Countryside Agency has been reorganised; it has been rolled together with English Nature and the Rural Development Service to form a new body, gloriously entitled ‘Natural England’ to act as a super nanny to bully us – sorry, I mean coordinate us all, should we dare to venture out into the countryside. It is charged with ‘a particular focus on disadvantage’ and one suspects that local heritage bodies are not disadvantaged enough to qualify. So the LHI bit the dust.
I have never been over-enamoured of the work of the LHI. Many societies have applied successfully for grants from the Awards for All project to buy tools and other equipment, while the Heritage Lottery Fund provides big grants to those willing to spend the time and effort to apply for them, but it seems to me that the LHI grants all too frequently enabled local bodies to pay for professionals to do their work for them – which is not altogether a good idea. In the meantime the Awards for All still continues: details can be obtained by ringing 0845 600 20 40. However their ‘short and simple’ application form, which used to be a mere 8 pages, has now increased to 24 pages: Bureaucracy! Bureaucracy!
This opinion comes from CA issue 207