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Hinterland - 4 May 2021

In Hinterland this week - hospitality in dispute, nursery wobbles, new local government structure same old problems, fears over the loss of doctors and the pull of nature across the red wall and along the Cornish peninsula.

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Hospitality bosses lose court battle over indoor opening

This article serves to remind us of the desperate challenges facing our hospitality businesses particularly those in rural and coastal settings. It tells us:

Hospitality bosses have lost a legal challenge for a faster reopening for indoor dining in England.

The High Court ruled in favour of the government after a case was brought by Punch Taverns founder Hugh Osmond, and Sacha Lord, the night-time economy adviser for Greater Manchester.

Pubs and restaurants were allowed to reopen - but only outdoors - on 12 April, along with non-essential shops.

Mr Lord said they were disappointed by the outcome.

Mr Lord and Mr Osmond argued there was no justification or scientific basis for hospitality to be kept closed for five weeks, after retailers in England were allowed to serve customers indoors from mid-April.

Mr Lord said: "While this fight has always been an uphill battle... we are pleased that the case has shone a light on the hospitality sector and the unfair and unequal guidance within the recovery roadmap."

"Despite the outcome, we will continue to hold the government to account and demand evidence-based decisions, rather than those drafted without detailed analysis or based on bias or whim."

England’s nursery schools driven towards extinction, says survey

This is very serious stuff and something we should be very worried about, particularly in rural settings where choices are very limited and the relationship between nurseries and work is very strong.

England’s remaining state nursery schools are being driven towards extinction by budget pressures and uncertainty over future government funding, according to a survey of the sector’s financial position.

A third of the maintained nursery schools – which offer pre-school provision through local authorities – said they were having to cut staff and services, including reducing opening hours, because of falling income and higher costs since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Maintained nursery schools during the pandemic were a lifeline for local families. They stayed open for the most vulnerable children and children of critical workers, often taking in children from other settings that closed,” said Beatrice Merrick, the chief executive of Early Education, which represents the sector.

“Instead of this lifeline being supported, it is being put at risk by government failure to address their routine funding needs.”

The survey, by Early Education and the sector’s leading unions, including Unison and the National Education Union, found nursery schools were losing an average of £76,000 in annual income and having to spend an extra £8,000 in costs directly related to Covid-19.

Almost half of the 200 maintained nurseries across 75 local authorities said they would be running deficits for the financial year, and only one in four said they could continue to operate with current funding. One in five reported they had emergency financial recovery plans in place or under discussion.

Northamptonshire elections bring hope of fresh start after years of turmoil

As we go to the polls on Thursday a new landscape is emerging in Northamptonshire. Lets hope this new structure is more capable of tackling the social care funding crisis than its predecessor…..

Home to what was once branded the worst-run council in the country, local elections this week mark the start of a new chapter for Northamptonshire.

After years of council turmoil including bankruptcy, a corruption scandal and failing social services, when people head to the polls on Thursday they’ll be voting for the first time to elect two new unitary authorities hoping to start afresh.

It’s the first local elections in the area since 2017, after the vote was delayed first for the restructuring process and then Covid. “It’s been a long time coming, we haven’t had an election for years, so I think everybody is keen to see democracy in Northamptonshire again,” said Robin Burgess, the chief executive of the Hope Centre in Northampton, which works to address poverty in the town.

Nature restoration can spark jobs boost in struggling ‘red wall’ areas, study finds

Rural local authorities in less affluent areas should tune into this report pdq…..

Coastal and peatland restoration, plus the creation of woodlands and new urban green spaces, offer the potential to create many thousands of new posts, Boris Johnson has been told.

And the research, carried out by consultants WPI Economics, found that potential is greatest in employment blackspots such as the red wall seats snatched by the Tories from Labour during the last general election.

At least 16,000 jobs could be created; 11,000 by developing urban green spaces and the rest in coastal restoration and woodland creation.

County Durham, West Cumbria, Wolverhampton and parts of Nottinghamshire are among areas that would be major winners, the study argues.

NHS faces doctor exodus after pressure of Covid pandemic, survey finds

Here we see the downside of the recovery. In rural settings the recruitment and retention of health and care workers is at its most pronouncedly challenging and this leaves me with a sense of foreboding for the future. This story tells us:

A British Medical Association (BMA) survey found just over a fifth (21 per cent) of doctors working in the health service said they might leave within the next year.

Meanwhile, half said they plan to work fewer hours and a quarter said they are “more likely” to take a career break once the pandemic has fully subsided.

Workload and the inability to take proper breaks were the main reasons many doctors had thought about leaving the NHS.

Dr Chaand Nagpaul, chairman of the British Medical Association (BMA) council, described it as a “deeply worrying” situation involving the potential departure of “talented, experienced professionals who the NHS needs more than ever to pull this country out of a once-in-a-generation health crisis”.

And Finally

New 150-mile Cornish cycle route to open in the autumn

Everywhere has a cycle route now! I hope there is some detailed evaluation of the actual impact of this latest initiative planned as I think it will be really helpful to map the outcomes arising from this sort of initiative and to begin a sharing process in terms of the emerging results.

A new Cornish cycling route that takes in some of the UK’s most spectacular coastal scenery as well as atmospheric old industrial works and bronze age monuments is due to open in the autumn.

Called the West Kernow Way, the 150-mile route begins and ends in Penzance and is designed to take four days to complete.

The charity Cycling UK has been working for more than a year on developing the project, plotting a route using bridleways, byways and quiet stretches of country road.

Highlights will include Land’s End, the most westerly place in mainland England, the Lizard Point, the most southerly spot of mainland Britain, and the island castle and gardens of St Michael’s Mount.

Other attractions include the tin mine engine houses that cling to the cliffs at Botallack and the open air Minack Theatre, which perches above the Atlantic.

Cyclists will also be able to visit the extraordinary standing stones Mên-an-Tol and Carn Brea, the hilltop castle and monument.

Sophie Gordon, Cycling UK’s campaigns officer, said: “The landscape has so much to offer, from the natural beauty of Lizard Point to the wilds of the north coast, but we want to dive into the culture and history of Cornwall too.

About the author:
Hinterland is written for the Rural Services Network by Ivan Annibal, of rural economic practitioners Rose Regeneration.


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