Sunday, 02 October 2011 19:46

Government targets rural growth

Written by  Ruralcity Media
Government targets rural growth

DEFRA secretary Caroline Spelman has pledged to prioritise the needs of the countryside.

In a speech to Conservative Party Conference, Mrs Spelman said the government wanted to promote a rural renaissance.

“For far too long the economy of this country has been unbalanced,” she told delegates in Manchester on Sunday (2 October).

“Not just 'north-south', but 'rural-urban'. It’s one of the factors that’s brought us to where we are today. And we need to fix it.”

Mrs Spelman said she had three immediate priorities:-

* Reconnecting the countryside with the government;

* Better protecting the natural environment;

* Helping to cut the deficit and generate economic growth.

The government was investing £530m in rural broadband, Mrs Spelman added.

“We’re refocusing grants and funding streams so that they actively promote new kinds of rural enterprise.”

Rural grants were being used to generate new business start-ups, new tourism opportunities and new markets for local produce.

The government also wanted to help existing businesses become more competitive, more innovative, and more prosperous.

“For our countryside to flourish, it has to be a thriving and prosperous part of the economic recovery.

“That’s vital to sustaining the services and quality of life that rural communities need.”

The government’s next growth review would have its own rural strand – specifically targeting the growth in the countryside.

“Our economic seniority in the world order is not a given, we have to fight for it,” Mrs Spelman said.

“We’re up there against the best and we need to win those contracts, win that investment and get those jobs.”

The full speech can be read here.

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