MAJOR BOOST TO THE CAMPAIGN FOR A RURAL STRATEGY:
The Independent Food, Farming & Countryside Commission hosted by the RSA in its report launched on Tuesday 16th July ‘Our Future in the Land’ has added its voice to the calls by the RSN and the House of Lords Select Committee for a comprehensive Rural Strategy (more to follow)
On Monday 12 the Government updated its broadband delivery plan by increasing the amount of money available to small businesses through the Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme. The vouchers can be used by small businesses and communities to contribute to the installation costs of faster broadband connections with up to £2,500 available for businesses and £500 for residents. The Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee held an evidence session as part of the ongoing inquiry into the future of high streets. The session focused on the role of local authorities in supporting high street businesses.
On 13 November the Lords Rural Economy Committee heard evidence from the small business and farming sectors. Witnesses emphasised the importance of local roads and transport networks in addition to broadband and financial support.
On Wednesday 14, the Faith Minister Lord Bourne called on faith groups across the country to reach out and build local networks between communities following his second ‘national faith tour’ of the UK. On Thursday, Crickhowell High Street was named the UK’s best, winning the Great British High Street Awards. High Streets Minister Jake Berry MP attended the event at Lancaster House in London, with Crickhowell winning £15,000 for community projects. Elsewhere, the Environment Agency published statistics on the cleanliness of English beaches. 92.4 per cent of 420 bathing spots tested achieved ‘Excellent’ or ‘Good’ status. It was also announced that the chief executive of Natural England, James Cross, is to step down. Marian Spain, a current board member has been appointed interim chief executive.
On Monday 19 November the Commons Select Committee on Transport hears evidence on local roads funding and governance.
On Tuesday 20 the Commons Select Committee on Health and Social Care will hear evidence on the implications of the Budget for health and social care. Elsewhere, the Lords Rural Economy Committee meets to hear evidence from telecoms and infrastructure experts.
On Wednesday 21 the Commons Select Committee for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs hears evidence from the chair of Natural England. Later they will meet to hear from Environment Secretary Michael Gove on the preparedness of Defra for Brexit.
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