This SMART Villages event was organised by Kilkenny LEADER Partnership (KLP). It is the first of a series of events to sensitise local communities to the possibilities and modalities for initiative opportunities over the next 5-year cycle of rural development funding. The event was attended by about 150 people, being a mix of community groups, social entrepreneurs, local organisations, and some local politicians.
The event was structured on four themes: (i) developing natural assets both for environmental/biodiversity improvement and as economic/leisure opportunities; (ii) culture and heritage, both for the community itself and as tourist niche markets; (iii) access, covering both physical (mobility) and digital (broadband), and building on this for business opportunities; and (iv) developing sustainable rural towns and villages.
SMARTA contributed to the Panel Discussion and to the “Access all Areas” workshop, covering both policy and practice. During the panel and the workshop, SMARTA was able to showcase relevant examples such as integration of local mobility services with conventional public transport (Kilkenny), community participation in organisation and operation of mobility services (Burgerbus), use of dedicated resources for general public use (Toscana Sud), possibility of hitchhiking returning as a means of travel (RezoPouce), car-pooling (Trikala, Brasov, Vejle), and the role of carsharing (East Tyrol).
The event confirmed very strong interest in better mobility. Every community recognises it as a big challenge, especially for younger people for whom it means independence (or lack of it), the eternal need for parents to function as “taxis” for their children, and the need for households to run additional cars that they cannot really afford. There is also an understanding of the opportunities to bring visitors to their village or leisure amenity, and the potential of local services to connect with the regional services.
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