Monday, 01 November 2010 07:52

Unveiled: Plan for local growth

Written by  Ruralcity Media
Ministers want to boost local economies Ministers want to boost local economies

THE government's Local Growth White Paper recognises the importance of the rural economy, say business leaders.

The paper sets out the government’s role in empowering locally driven growth, encouraging business investment and promoting economic development.

As part of the paper, the government has given the green light to 24 local enterprise partnerships that will see local business and civic leaders working together to boost local economies across England.

A £1.4bn regional growth fund has also opened for business.

It will support the creation of private sector jobs, especially in areas where local communities are currently dependent on the public sector.

The Local Growth White Paper can be downloaded here (1.3Mb pdf).

The Country Land and Business Association said the paper recognised the role of rural areas in stimulating greater national economic activity.

CLA president William Worsley said the association had been at the forefront of challenging the government to acknowledge the part played by rural business in generating economic growth.

“We are delighted our position has finally been accepted by government,” said Mr Worsley.

The government now needed to follow through by removing the obstacles currently encountered by entrepreneurs in the countryside.

“The role a more dynamic rural business sector can play is fundamental to stimulating economic recovery.

“The CLA has long said that a structural reform of the planning system is central to this.”

It was also essential that new local enterprise partnerships took into account the needs of rural areas.

“This must include transparent representation of rural businesses on the boards of the newly agreed LEPs,” said Mr Worsley.

“Without such representation, the rural-urban divide will continue to grow.”

The CLA had particular concern about a “lack of clarity” regarding the Rural Development Programme for England (RDPE).

The seven-year programme of measures aims to encourage rural development, business diversification and competitiveness.

“Deep uncertainty faces the RDPE as a result of the restructuring of the delivery organisations and the comprehensive spending review.

“While the White Paper makes it clear that RDPE administration will in future be centralised, there are scant details of how this will be done.

“It is vital there is no interruption of the programmes of measures.”

The CLA would be lobbying on all these points with the relevant ministers and officials, Mr Worsley said.

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