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 141 Towns and Parishes have already agreed to commence the group and we look forward to hearing from the remainder of the 200 councils approached. We are currently on target for the 120 members we seek.


→ 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:

  • Involvement in the Rural Strategy campaign to ensure feedback from member Market Towns is considered within the Revitalising Rural areas documentation and its updates. 
  • Development of some good practice and learning material related to the key policy areas and delivery challenges or opportunities for rural/market towns.
  • Receiving the ‘Rural Bulletin’, a weekly newsletter provided by the Rural Services Network highlighting rural news, issues affecting rural communities, and highlighting the work of the Rural Services Network.
  • Provision of a dedicated quarterly newsletter ‘Rural Market Towns Group Roundup‘ highlighting relevant latest policy developments, showcasing interesting member practice and flagging relevant initiatives or funding opportunities.
  • Periodic online surveys of the members of rural/market towns, to gather comparative information about topics of particular interest to this grouping.
  • Free access for Councillor representatives or their nominee to the 9 topic RSN Cross Service Seminar programme.
  • Twice yearly Rural Town Networking Meetings held online.
  • Meetings of a RMTG Town Clerk’s Advisory Panel.
  • Whilst statistical information is almost always presented by Government at County and/or District level it is vital the messages this contains are known about across rural areas. We will issue an area rural statistical profile once a year to members of this grouping.
  • The pattern of local area Market Town meetings seem mixed across England. We would like to look at this in a little detail to see if it is at all feasible to secure any improvement in areas where meetings/joint working are not taking place currently and also look at how liaison can take place between this national facing group and existing area meetings.
Rural Market Town Documents:
.New Rural Market Town Members (19):
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
Established Rural Market Town Members (122):
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

Warsop Parish 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


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