A Rural Market Town grouping of the RSN

Why do we need a rural market town grouping?

The RSN believes that Rural Communities are frequently overlooked in a policy environment dominated by urban thinking and policy concerns. This often means communities either miss out on the benefits or experience unintended consequences from policies which are poorly thought-through from a rural perspective. This means that government policy currently neglects the many hundreds of important rural towns across England.

We believe these towns play a vital role not only in the lives of their inhabitants but also in both the local and national economy. That is why we want them to receive more focus.

Rural areas and their intricate network of rural communities should be able to realise their potential within the national economy and need to be appropriately recognised and supported in government thinking and actions.

What is the Rural Market Town Group?

To underline the importance of these English towns, the role they play and their potential going forward, The Rural Services Network have developed a new initiative to develop a Rural Market Town Grouping within the Rural Services Network. This new Grouping will work to add to our Call on Government for a Rural Strategy.

We have begun this initiative by approaching one town or the largest village in each of the 200+ rural areas across England which has been identified by Defra for their distinctive characteristic. This process will be expanded in time to ensure that all those that wish to be involved are fully engaged.

Whilst we appreciate and celebrate the diversity of our rural areas, we seek to create a universal voice to represent all different types of rural areas across England ensuring that no form of rural area is excluded.

Up to until now 210 Towns and Parishes have already agreed to commence the group.


View current members by clicking here

If other Rural Towns who we are yet to contact want to learn more about this matter, please contact us at admin@sparse.gov.uk

Services provided to the group will include:

  • Weekly edition of the Rural Bulletin, the RSN publication which includes relevant rural news and articles highlighting key issues affecting rural service delivery and communities.
  • Monthly Funding Digest which sets out funding and grant opportunities along with key Government Consultations relating to rural areas.
  • An Area Profile of their Principal Council issued once a year setting out key statistics in relation to the rural area. This will help to give the overall picture of their local area to help plan services and understand local issues.
  • Involvement in RSN Consultation Programme, this could include responding to Government White Papers, Call for Evidence and Select Committee Inquiries. In addition, they will help to develop the rural voice at a national level to ensure the voice of rural market towns and Larger Parish Councils are represented. This would be in the form of surveys, call for evidence / case studies.
  • Dedicated Rural Market Town Group newsletter four times a year setting out key issues for the group and highlighting the work of the RSN where relevant to them.
  • Free access to the Rural Services Network Seminar Programme, in 2021 this will include 9 seminars throughout the year on a range of key rural topics.
  • Discounted access to the National Rural Conference.
  • An Annual Rural Poll (via Survey Monkey) seeking to establish the top (up to 5) issues currently facing Group Member Councils. The results to be reported to and fully discussed by one of the twice-yearly meetings.
  • Attendance at a twice - yearly meeting of the Rural Market Town Group (via ZOOM) - this group is for Councillors and its purpose is to enable networking and consider key issues at a strategic level for rural villages.
  • Attendance at a yearly meeting of the Rural Market Town Group Clerks meeting – (via ZOOM), the purpose of the meeting is to enable networking and consider key issues at a strategic level for the clerks.
  • Cataloguing of good practice and learning material related to key policy areas and challenges or opportunities for rural market towns and large Parishes.
  • The pattern of local area Market Town meetings is mixed across England. The group could explore this to see if there is any improvement in areas where meetings / joint working is not taking place currently and look at how liaison can take place between this national facing group and existing area meetings.
Rural Market Town Material:
.New Rural Market Town Members (79):
Bakewell Town Council Coggeshall Parish Council Westerham Town Council Billinge Chapel End Parish Council Hedge End Town Council
Bridport Town Council South Molton Town Council Crowland Parish Council Market Harborough Clowne Parish Council
Lechlade on Thames Town Council Penistone Town Council Diss Town Council Richmond Town Council Bicester Town Council
Holt Town Council Hullbridge Parish Council Chipping Ongar Town Council Barkham Parish Council Axminster Town Council
Barlaston Parish Council Birtley Parish Council Bishops Castle Town Council Chapel-en-le-Frith Parish Council Charnock Richard Parish Council
Epworth Town Council Harleston Town Council Pickering Town Council Snaith and Cowick Town Council Somerton Town Council
Swanage Town Council The Gorge Parish Council Totnes Town Council

Alton Town Council

Chobham Parish Council

Brewood and Coven Parish Council

Peacehaven Town Council

Bovingdon Parish Council

Oundle Town Council

Middleton in Teesdale Parish Council

Camelford Town Council

Bideford Town Council

Easingwold Town Council

Luddesdown Parish Council

Minehead Town Council

Okehampton Town Council

Malton Town Council

Maldon Town Council

Great Dunmow Council

Moretonhampstead Parish Council

Addingham Parish Council

Edenbridge Town Council

Tadcaster Town Council

Hunstanton Town Council

Ripley Town Council

Hythe Town Council

Wirksworth Town Council

Ripponden Parish Council

Borden Parish Council

Wadebridge Town Council

Theale Parish Council

Witney Town Council

Ollerton and Boughton Town Council

Westbury Town Council Barnstaple Town Council

Flitwick Town Council

Fordingbridge Town Council

Sutton Valence Council

Baildon Town Council Sedgefield Town Council

Cottingham Parish Council

Overton Parish Council

Lyme Regis Town Council

Shepshed Town Council Castor Parish Council

Yarm Town Council

Gillingham Town Council

Waltham on the Wolds and Thorpe Arnold Parish Council

Meltham Town Council

Wincanton Town Council

Southwell Town Council

Lynton and Lynmouth Town Council

Hodnet Parish Council

Bradford on Avon Town Council

Broadway Parish Council

Rock Parish Council

Keynsham Town Council

Brodsworth Parish Council

Old Bolsover Town Council
Established Rural Market Town Members (121):
Ackworth Parish Council Alcester Town Council Alnwick Town Council Alvechurch Parish Council Ampthill Town Council
Arundel Town Council Ashby de la Zouch Town Council Atherstone Town Council Balsall Parish Council Belper Town Council
Biddenden Parish Council Biddulph Town Council Bingham Town Council Bourne Town Council Bovey Tracey Town Council
Brampton Parish Council Buckingham Town Council Burnham on Sea and Highbridge Town Council Burscough Parish Council Caistor Town Council
Carnforth Town Council Chalfont St Giles Parish Council Chard Town Council Cheadle Town Council Church Stretton Town Council
Cirencester Town Council Clare Town Council Cleator Moor Town Council Clevedon Town Council Clitheroe Town Council
Clun Town Council with Chapel Lawn Corsham Town Council Cranbrook and Sissinghurst Parish Council Cranleigh Parish Council Crediton Town Council
Dalton with Newton Town Council Daventry Town Council Downham Market Town Council Earl Shilton Town Council Earby Town Council
East Grinstead Town Council East Horsley Parish Council Faringdon Town Council Faversham Town Council Finedon Town Council
Frodsham Town Council Garstang Town Council Great Torrington Town Council Guisborough Town Council Hadleigh Town Council
Halstead Town Council Hartley Witney Parish Council Harworth and Bircotes Town Council Hetton Town Council Hexham Town Council
Holsworthy Town Council Kendal Town Council Keswick Town Council Kirkby Stephen Town Council Knaresborough Town Council
Knutsford Town Council Launceston Town Council Ledbury Town Council Leominster Town Council Longridge Town Council
Lutterworth Town Council Lymm Parish Council Mablethorpe and Sutton Town Council Market Rasen Town Council Marlborough Town Council
Midsomer Norton Town Council Minster Parish Council New Alresford Town Council Newport Town Council Normandy Parish Council
Oakham Town Council Olney Town Council Otley Town Council Oxted Parish Council Penrith Town Council
Penzance Town Council Petersfield Town Council Ripon City Council Rothwell Town Council Rye Town Council
Saffron Walden Town Council Sandy Town Council Saxmundham Town Council Seaton Town Council Shaftesbury Town Council
Sherborne Town Council Shildon Town Council Skipton Town Council Sleaford Town Council Sodbury Town Council
Soham Town Council St Austell Town Council St Ives Town Council Stowmarket Town Council Stroud Town Council
Swanley Town Council Swineshead Parish Council Tavistock Town Council Tenbury Town Council Tenterden Town Council
Thetford Town Council Thornbury Town Council Uckfield Town Council Uppingham Town Council Uttoxeter Town Council
Verwood Town Council Wallingford Town Council

Wem Town Council

Wendover Parish Council

Wells City Council
West Chiltington Parish Council Wetherby Town Council

Wheathampstead Parish Council

Whitby Town Council

Wisbech Town Council
Wotton-under-Edge Town Council

Reserve List

The following Councils have also been approached but because of the current lockdown measures affecting their operation, the pressure of extra work caused by the COVID emergency and/or the resulting reprogramming of the meetings they are unable to determine their council situation on this matter at this time. The Councils have indicated they are prepared therefore to go on a reserve list at this stage to safeguard their position so that they can consider the matter as they can. These Councils will therefore consider our invitation for them to be involved as they are able.

Barnard Castle (Durham), Bishopthorpe (York), Bradfield (Sheffield M.B.), Burnham on Crouch (Maldon), Capel (Mole Valley), Clifton Campville (Lichfield), Denby Dale (Kirklees), Dinnington and Maltby (Rotherham MB), Driffield (East Riding), Lenham (Maidstone), Midhurst (Chichester), Northallerton (Hambleton), Portland (Dorset), Sandwich (Dover), Shirebrook (Bolsover), South Elmsall (Wakefield), Sturry (Canterbury), Todmorden (Calderdale), Truro (Cornwall), and Windlesham (Surrey Heath). 


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