Tuesday, 07 September 2010 00:10

Watchdog unveils rural agenda

Written by  Ruralcity Media
Burgess: Call for better rural recognition Burgess: Call for better rural recognition

POLICY-MAKERS are being urged to recognise the potential of rural areas to help the country recover from recession.

Rural England is making a major contribution to the national economic recovery, says a report by the Commission for Rural Communities.

“Rural firms and communities stand ready to play their part in the national drive to achieve our full economic potential,” it says.

“In turn they ask for fair recognition and support from all tiers of government.”

The Agenda for Change was published by the commission on Tuesday (7 September).

The document calls for more attention to ensure economic policies and delivery address the needs of rural communities.

Local authorities and other public bodies should demonstrate a commitment to responding positively to community-led plans, it says.

In addition, the document says the planning system should be used to support rather than frustrate sustainable economic growth in rural area.

Improvements in internet and mobile communications are also essential if rural areas are to meet their potential, it warns.

The full document can be downloaded here (233KB pdf).

Commission chairman Stuart Burgess said: “More of the potential of our local rural economies can and should be realised.”

He added: “It is clearer than ever that helping the release of this potential must be a big part of the next stage of our national economic growth.”

Dr Burgess said he was pleased the coalition government had pledged to ensure the rapid rollout of superfast broadband across the country.

He also praised a government pledge to seek to introduce superfast broadband in remote areas at the same time as in more populated areas.

The agenda says supporting the release of rural potential should be a major strand of the next stage of growth in the UK economy.

“This should be a challenge adopted right across government, and not just by Defra and [the Department for] Business, Innovation and Skills,” it says.

Explicit, positive action is needed to ensure the potential of rural communities and businesses are properly taken into account, adds the document.

Central, regional and local government should ensure activities to achieve economic growth are applied equitably between different places.

Rural affairs secretary Caroline Spelman said she was confident that the document contained useful insights and recommendations.

Mrs Spelman said she had asked the commission to discuss with relevant departments and other bodies how its proposals could be supported.

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