Thursday, 13 September 2007 14:08

Tory blueprint to 'rebuild rural trust'

Written by  Ruralcity Media

ImageThe countryside is suffering from a breakdown of trust between rural communities and the government, warns the Conservative Party.

Published by the party's Quality of Life Policy Group, the Blueprint for a Green Economy report outlines a series of proposals should the Conservatives gain power.

"There has been a fundamental breakdown of trust between our rural communities and those government departments and the many agencies that have increasing influence over the way in which they live their lives," it warns.

"This absence of trust affects whole communities and a vast range of interests."

The report says many rural people feel marginalised and cut off from influence on the political decision-making process.

Government policies often neglect rural needs because officials in Defra and other key agencies often have little knowledge of the rural world in which they are supposed to work, it claims.

The government's pledge to rural proof its policies is "all too often a mere administrative convention, designed to hide the government’s fundamental lack of interest or knowledge of the countryside".

Because of this, the report recommends that local government should be devolved down to the lowest competent and appropriate level, including parish councils.

"We want to encourage community solutions to community problems as these are the most long-lasting. Successful, community ownership of solutions means that they are more likely to be sustainable."

The document calls for rural regulation and the activities of government departments and agencies to be "undertaken by people with rural insight in order that the level of trust" can be restored.

Rural proofing should be the natural outcome of a close and continuing relationship between government, national and local, and the rural communities it serves, rather than a substitute for understanding the countryside.

The Tory party will now discuss and debate the proposals, before deciding which recommendations will become firm policies.

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