A New Rural Village Services Grouping

Over 17% of the English population live in rural areas and it is believed a quarter of that population live in rural villages.

It is estimated there are over 6,000 rural villages across England.

Some 4,500 of those have a population below 5,000

It is important that at what are certain to be difficult times that the village services case is made time and again. For that to happen we need to achieve as much joined up thinking and working as is possible around issues in this area. That requires collective networking, action, support and input.  At minimal cost to councils we plan to establish a group to enable this to happen.

We are intending to start the recruitment process across Parish Councils for a Village Services Group during the Summer.  We will initially be approaching directly those local councils in rural areas with a population of 1500 or more. Although membership fees will be low, we hope at that population level, there should be a tad more flexibility in the annual budget to allow involvement.

We will give a period of free ‘no obligation’ membership to introduce parishes into the group and they can decide after that period if the wish to continue.

If you are interested in finding out about the group in the meantime, please contact david.inman@sparse.gov.uk

Services located within, or provided locally to, villages and their surrounding areas are vitally important to the social and economic wellbeing of rural communities and contribute very considerably to the quality of life of their residents.

RSN is concerned both about the current levels of service provision from rural villages and about likely future pressures, particularly in the context of an ageing rural population, increased rural vulnerability, and the need for technological advancement to be specifically considered in rural areas and in the rural context.  To date, these important issues do not receive the level of attention that they warrant.  Accordingly, to facilitate better understanding and to raise the profile of village service needs at a national level, RSN intends to establish a membership group of Parish Councils to argue this vital case.

In order ensure that The Rural Village Services Group is as inclusive as possible the membership subscription level will be set at a low level. Here are the details:-

Rural Villages Services Group – parishes in rural areas (generally of a population size of 1500 or above) containing a central village or villages from which local services (for instance shop, post office, pub,church, village hall) flow to the population of the parish.

  • £70 per annum plus VAT for Local Councils of up to 2,750 population.
  • £80 similarly plus VAT p.a. for Local Councils with 2,750 to 5,000 population.
  • £90 plus VAT for parishes above 5,000 population.

We need to involve at least 400 Rural Parishes in this initiative. We are similarly looking to bring together a separate Rural/Market Towns Grouping of the same size.

It is intended members of the Rural Village Group will receive the following service:

  • A Weekly Rural Bulletin which includes Rural News, Member Insight, Economic Profiling, Spotlights on Economy & Housing, Hinterland, Analysis & Commentary Pieces, Week in Parliament – Politics Roundup and more.
  • A Monthly Funding Digest & Government Consultations - with funding and grant opportunities, along with relevant Government Consultations related to rural areas.
  • A Rural Village Group (RSVG) Newsletter - bi-annual newsletter including key issues for rural villages for example rural transport, broadband, and affordable housing. (May and November). We attach an illustration of the content.
  • Area Profiles - an Area Profile of your 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. (December)
  • Engagement and Involvement in RSN Campaigns.
  • Involvement in the RSN Consultation Programme - this includes responding to Government Consultations, White Papers, Calls for Evidence and Select Committee Inquiries. In addition, the Group will help to develop the rural voice at a national level to ensure rural are properly represented. This would be in the form of our own surveys, calls for evidence and case studies.  (Various times throughout the year)
  • Annual Rural Village Services Group (RSVG) Meeting - dedicated for discussions of key strategic issues facing rural villages across England. This meeting would also involve discussions on Rural Vulnerability and Utility Company services. (June)
  • An Annual Rural Poll - seeking to establish the top 5 issues currently facing Rural Village Group members across England. (January ) Results of this will be presented and discussed at the annual RSVG meeting. (June)
  • Facilitating Member Networking on a National Economic Level - through more joint working, networking with the goal of tackling most relevant rural challenges, seeking solutions and improvement.  This will include exploring whether the Rural Village Services Group can contribute to work and research of the National Centre for Rural Enterprise (NICRE), in relation to rural area economic issues.
  • Young People - To facilitate work in key areas, members may nominate a representative interested in young people in their rural area, who may be contacted to gather specific views and evidence throughout the year to support national campaigning.

If we are to convince others we have to be convincing, ourselves. We need strength of numbers into this new Group and collective work and thought. We will ensure the service is a strong one and gives back full value. Please work with us to achieve a stronger national recognition of rural village service problems and challenges. Work here will be to the benefit of your residents, your Council, and to the national economy. We hope this interests you.

The first Parishes to join are:

Acle Barton Under Needwood East Budleigh with Bicton Parish Council Middleton-in-Teesdale and Newbiggin Parish Council Woodborough Parish Council
Sapcote Parish Council Ruyton XI Towns Parish Council
Castor Parish Council



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