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On Tuesday 7th July, the Government confirmed the expansion of the Suffolk Coast and Heaths Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty by around 38 square kilometres. Also on Tuesday, during a debate on the Agriculture Bill, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Lord Gardiner (Con) argued that rural-proofing means that anything done across Whitehall should be considered in terms of the impact on rural communities, and ‘UK shared prosperity means rural communities’.
On Wednesday 8th July, the Chancellor Rishi Sunak MP (Con) gave the Summer Economic Statement. Amongst the announcements included a £2bn ‘kickstart scheme’ for jobs to prevent an entire generation of young people being ‘left behind’, and a temporary reduced rate of VAT for hospitality, holiday accommodation and attractions. During a debate on the economy, Chris Loder MP (Con) argued that the shift in working habits caused by COVID-19 can be the ‘catalyst’ in ‘levelling up’ the rural and coastal communities, creating well-paid opportunities for local people, but that this needs ‘fast and reliable broadband’ that is accessible at home and at work. During a debate on Health Protection, Baroness Watkins (CB) noted that face covering rules are not mandated for school transport services and highlighted the risk to pupils from rural areas, who often travel coaches and buses. She urged the Government to amend the guidance to include school transport services for secondary school pupils from the beginning of the new year, so that ‘rural pupils are afforded the same protection as their city colleagues’.
On Thursday 9th July, the Secretary of State for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs approved part of the proposals for improving coastal access between South Hayling and East Head. During Business Questions, Dame Cheryl Gillan MP (Con) asked for a debate on a CPRE report on connectivity in rural England. During Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Oral Questions Kate Griffiths MP (Con) asked what progress DCMS has made on the roll-out of the rural gigabit connectivity programme. Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden MP (Con) announced that from Saturday 25th July, people can return to their gyms, indoor swimming pools and leisure centres.
On Friday 10th July, retailers, farming unions, consumer, hospitality and environmental bodies from across the UK were named as members of the Government’s new Trade and Agriculture Commission.
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