Sunday, 30 June 2013 11:08

Think tank to probe rural challenges

Written by  Ruralcity Media
Think tank to probe rural challenges

RURAL communities are set to benefit from a new body that will examine the challenges of living in the countryside.

The Rural England think-tank has been established as an independent body by the Rural Services Network, which represents more than 100 local authorities and over 100 other rural organisations.

With its own independent steering group [2], Rural England will examine innovative ways of overcoming the challenges faced by rural businesses and communities.

Rural Services Network Chief Executive Graham Biggs MBE said research would be undertaken across rural England in a way that was relevant, focused and cross-organisational.

Mr Biggs said: "There is a widely held view that organisational changes and financial pressures are having a negative impact on the scope for rural research and policy analysis.

"The Rural Services Network has begun work to address this gap by developing a 'Rural England' service, which has its own independent steering group."

Mr Biggs said the network respected government work being undertaken within DEFRA by its Rural Communities Policy Unit (RCPU), where some tangible benefits were evident.

But following the abolition of the Commission for Rural Communities, there was also a place for complementary rural work carried out independent of government, added Mr Biggs.

"We approached a number of people involved with the Commission for Rural Communities and asked whether they would give their time to establish a rural research service out of the ashes.

"We are pleased that eight of them agreed to do so.

"Having seven former commissioners and a former director involved alongside recognised rural bodies will form a work base that can grow into a strong grouping."

The establishment of the group represented a real statement about the importance of rural issues and the preparedness of rural organisations to work together, said Mr Biggs.

Steering group members include the following former commissioners from the Commission for Rural Communities (CRC):

* Alison Mclean - former Commissioner (CR, CRC,2002-2009)
* Howard Petch - former Commissioner (2008-2013)
* Margaret Clark - former Director at the Commission (Director RDC, CR & CRC 1995-2007)
* Professor Mark Shucksmith (University of Newcastle) - former Commissioner (CR, CRC, 2005-13)
* Professor Michael Winter (University of Exeter) - former Commissioner (2006-2013)
* Rachel Purchase - former Commissioner (2010-2013)
* Professor Sheena Asthana (University of Plymouth) - former Commissioner (CR,CRC, 2005-13)
* Sue Prince - former Commissioner (2010-2013)

It is also hoped the steering group will additionally have a further six representatives from national organisations who have specific rural interests.

People in this conversation

  • Guest (Robert Cattle)


    If the rural think tank wants items to think about here is one item
    That in National Parks where new property is limited,,, second homes should be charged 110% council tax where the 10% above normal is remitted directly to the parish council or parish meeting. This is not punitive but is a contribution to the resident electors who keep the village spike and span.
    Our village in the NYMNPA has 28% second homes who contrive between zero or a little to community.

    from Lastingham, North Yorkshire YO62, UK
  • Guest (Robert Cattle)


    A second item for the think tank
    That in national parks where new housing is limited, planning permission should be mandatory if residential homes are converted to second homes. A change to a second home should be considered as a change of use.

    from Lastingham, North Yorkshire YO62, UK
  • Guest (Bryan Craig)


    I would love to join this think tank having lived all my life in rural Cumbria, I have much to offer in relation to the retention of rural communities, affordable housing and rural isolation.
    I am sure that my perspective will differ from the norm having lived through all of the important issues facing rural life and rural communities.
    Bryan Craig.
    11 Buebank Road

    from Dalston, Cumbria CA5 7RE, UK
  • Guest (Robert cattle)


    Here is my final 3 rd food for thought for the think tank
    HMG in its wisdom has put NHS services into large hospitals
    When one of our community was ill the ambulance took her and husband to a hospital (Leeds) 60 miles away,
    . They kept the wife in hospital.... So what does the husband do?? He, partly mobile from a stroke was told .....on your way fellow...........
    He spent over £120 in a taxi to get himself home. What was his alternative please ??
    A typical rural problem!!

    from Lastingham, North Yorkshire YO62, UK
  • Guest (Raymond Smith)


    Just implemnet the Mathew Taylor report! We are defined by planners as unsustainable, it's a joke. If we lived in the USA and had to drive 2 hours to the nearest shop then that is unsustainable. Just allow all hamlets, villages to grow at the same rate in percentage terms as towns. So for example a town of 20,000 houses can grow by 10% over 20 years (2000 houses) so my hamlet 35 houses could have 3 or 4 over the same time. What's the prob;em? except we have 60 years of no building to catch up!!

  • Guest (Sally Marsh)


    AONBs (Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty) cover 15% of England and National Parks a further 9%, almost entirely rural. AONBs all have voluntary partnerhsips involving local authorities, rural communities and amenity organisations who carry out research and projects to support their local area. A representative from the National Association or AONBs would be very keen to join the group.

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