The meeting held on 10 December 2021 was attended by assistance institution representatives and Project Partners.
“I am thrilled to see the project pick up speed. The city received PLN 16,010,503.86 (100% of the grant amount) as part of the Programme. Having joined forces with the Association of Polish Cities, Institute of Urban and Regional Development, and Norwegian Association of Local and Regional Authorities, we are embarking upon a project of incredible importance to our town: ‘Direction Future – the Starachowice Local Development Plan’ ”, reported Marek Materek, Mayor of the Town. “We are partnering with the Jan Kochanowski University of Kielce, Warsaw University of Technology, ‘Nasze Zdrowie’ (Our Health) Starachowice Foundation, Third Age University and the Starachowice County. We will be working bilaterally with the town of Bergen”. Talks between the two towns are now in progress.
During the conference, Janusz Szewczuk, Association of Polish Cities advisor, outlined “Local Development” Programme goals. The ultimate purpose is to provide assistance to small and medium-sized cities and towns on their road to designing and implementing sustainable and systemic local development approaches, and thus to restrict undesirable development phenomena and improve living standards for local residents.
“When implementing the project, we intend to provide the City and its Partners with assistance in any activity or endeavour planned or delivery,” said Grzegorz Godziek of the Association of Polish Cities. “We wish to observe all action taken, in order to join forces in learning how to support cities and towns who have shouldered the effort of introducing a number of changes with intent to ultimately accelerate development processes in their own area.”
As explained by Head of the Division for Securing External Funding Elżbieta Gralec, quality of life is to be improved for local residents through the implementation of comprehensive community, educational, environmental and economic programmes and projects, and boosting institutional potential. She remarked, “This is a pilot project, its implementation involving a variety of social partners – universities and non-governmental organisations – a novel solution in the world of project delivery by local government units.”
As part of the meeting agenda, Association of Polish Cities advisors held a workshop for local authority officials and Project Partners, with a focus on areas of assistance-related expectations in the course of project delivery.
Two documents were developed as part of the project: the Local Development Plan and Institutional Development Plan. Activities listed thereunder have been designed to strengthen the town, preparing it for demographic and climate changes. They also assume a process of professionalising local government operations.
How will project-specified activities contribute to the delivery of all these ambitious goals?
As notified by Mayor Marek Materek, the project will enable the town to finance the following, among others: construction of a pedway (skywalk) and new wing, and developing and accessorising Palace surroundings. The local EcoSchool will be partly renovated and equipped. Training courses will be organised for young people, teachers, non-governmental organisations, persons with disabilities and senior citizens. Community actions and campaigns have been planned. The Community Activity Centre in the Wzgórze housing compound will expand its offer to include i.a. a community day activity centre, psychological aid, classes addressing children, etc. The project includes activities fostering the integration of foreign nationals residing in Starachowice. Funding will be provided for a new housing policy, including new residential building blueprints and documentation, and for environmental protection strategic papers: Municipal Low-Emission Programme and Urban Plan of Adaptation to Climate Changes. An anti-smog drone will be purchased. The programme will comprise funding of accessibility standards, and a purchase of horizontal marking systems for the urban area to assist blind and visually impaired persons.
The ”Local Development” Programme is funded from the European Economic Area Financial Mechanism 2014-2021, and Norwegian Financial Mechanism 2014-2021.