Villages urged to join scheme

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Councillor Robbie Butler, an Ulster Unionist Party member of Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council, has called on the constituency’s rural dwellers to ensure the future of their communities by signing up to the innovative Village SOS programme.

Councillor Butler said: “The economic downturn and cuts crisis have unfortunately placed a serious question mark over the long-term survival of many of our rural communities.

“I wholeheartedly support the innovative Village SOS scheme which is supported by the Big Lottery Fund and the BBC, and I strongly encourage the villagers of Lagan Valley to sign up to this very worthwhile initiative.

“The credit crunch has created the prospect that a number of villages could become either economic or domestic wastelands, with many facing job cuts or moving into the towns to find work or housing.

“The benefit of Village SOS is that it aims to create a rural revival and inspire people in those communities to start businesses which will breathe new life into those regions, and importantly, create employment.

“A special website has been launched which provides tools, support and advice as well as expert guidance which will assist our rural communities in this process of transforming their areas. The website is www.villagesos.org.uk

“The rural communities in Lagan Valley form part of the backbone of this great constituency, and agriculture is one of our main industries. The two go hand in hand.

“We need our villages to thrive to ensure our farms do not become derelict wastelands. By getting involved with Village SOS, we can halt the drift of people away from the rural areas and into the towns where it is putting pressure on those urban facilities.”