Lockdown 3.0

We are still here at the RSN for all of our customers and partners. We remain working from home, ready to support you all to ensure that the rural voice is heard at a national level. We'd love to hear from you if you have any queries or want to get in touch admin@sparse.gov.uk

Chair of Rural Services Network re-elected for the year ahead

The RSN was delighted that Councillor Cecilia Motley was re-elected as its Chair at the Annual General Meeting on Monday 16th November

Councillor Motley has held the position of Chair for a number of years and brings with her a wealth of rural experience to support the RSN.

Councillor Motley has represented Shropshire Council on the Rural Services Network since 2007 and was a Vice Chair until 2014 when she was elected Chair.  She has a wide range of experience in Local Government, having been a Local Councillor since 2003, a past Leader of South Shropshire District Council and a Unitary Council Member for Shropshire since 2009, holding a number of Portfolio positions.

The representative for Shropshire Council on the County Councils Network, Councillor Motley is also a Vice-Chair of the Shropshire Hills AONB Strategy and Partnership Boards and is a past Member of Arts Council Midlands Board, representing Rural authorities.

The country is at a critical point in the response to the Covid-19 pandemic and Councillor Motley represents a very rural division so is well attuned to the difficulties facing those in rural areas.  The Rural Services Network represents local authorities across the length of England and many of those rely on tourism as part of their local economy.  The lockdown restrictions throughout the key spring and summer months have had a big impact on those rural areas relying on visitors.  In addition, the rural economy has a high number of SME’s and sole traders, many of whom do not have big reserves of money to support them through down periods for the business.

Older people form a significantly larger proportion of the population in rural areas than urban and the lockdown, lack of public transport options, and closure of many facilities has meant that rural residents are at risk of isolation and are vulnerable.

The importance of connectivity enabling us all to access services, healthcare, shopping deliveries, remote learning, homeworking and simply connecting with our families and friends has never been more important and yet 19% of rural communities cannot access superfast broadband.  It is not possible to get an indoor 4G onnection on all four networks at 58% of rural premises.

Urban areas in 20/21 still receive some 62% (£109) per head in Settlement Funding Assessment grant more than their rural counterparts.  Rural residents pay, on average, 22.7% (£105) per head more in Council Tax than their urban counterparts due to receiving less government grant.

Looking to the year ahead, the Rural Services Network with Councillor Motley at the helm, is leading the charge to improve rural services with its campaign “Revitalising Rural”, which sets out a number of policy asks in key areas to enable rural areas  to ‘level-up’ areas of historic underfunding and to realise their full potential.

Councillor Motley said ‘I am pleased to be able to represent rural areas and continue the all-important campaign for a fair deal for our rural communities.  We appreciate that all areas of the country are struggling, but rural areas have suffered consistently from years of underfunding and investment and need different policy solutions to enable them to thrive’.

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