Thursday, 03 March 2011 22:44

Rural leader rails against localism

Written by  Ruralcity Media
Rural leader rails against localism

GOVERNMENT policies threaten to stifle business in the countryside, a rural leader has warned.

William Worsley, president of the Country Land and Business Association, set out his vision for the countryside on Thursday (3 March).

In a 20-minute speech, Mr Worsley called on the coalition government to take action in a number of key areas.

"The government says the Localism Bill is about promoting economic growth," he told the association's spring council meeting in London.

"I'm not so sure. I'm horrified by some of its proposals."

Mr Worsley said it was wrong that owners wouldn't be able to sell an asset of local value until a community interest group had the opportunity to bid for it.

"This is clearly unjust," he said.

"It unreasonably restricts the freedom of an owner to dispose of property at a time or to a person of their choosing."

Mr Worsley said the planning system was over-complicated and expensive.

"It is vital rural business is served by a planning system that's fully effective.

"We call on the government to reform planning to make it more positive, flexible, transparent and efficient."

On property, Mr Worsley said the final straw for many rural businesses was being forced to pay rates on empty premises.

"This has to be wrong. We call on the government to restore the partial exemption for empty commercial property.

"Otherwise, there'll be appalling consequences for the rural economy."

Mr Worsley also called on the government to accept the need to adopt a Universal Service Commitment broadband speed of two megabits per second.

"Now we are raising the bar again, calling for a universal speed of at least five megabits per second by 2015."

Mr Worsley's full speech can be downloaded by clicking here.

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