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 Tuesday 30, MPs debated the provision of local healthcare in East Midlands, the discussion was far reaching and included references to the cost of healthcare in rural areas generally. Specifically, transport links in rural areas were singled out as an inhibiting factor to healthcare providers, as well as the problem of staff recruitment and retention. The Government’s proposed post-Brexit environmental watchdog ‘fails to meet its own ambitions’ and constitutes a ‘significant regression’ from current standards, according to the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee (EFRA) . The Office for Environmental Protection (OEP) will hold the Government to account and prevent damage to the environment. The EFRA Committee scrutinised the draft Environment (Principles and Governance) Bill, which will see the creation of the OEP and, after hearing evidence from a range of witnesses, concluded that future provisions do not meet the current standards and protections provided by EU membership. Previously, the Government stated that ‘we will note only maintain our current protections, but surpass them, taking new steps to ensure our environment is even better protected in future’.
On Thursday 2, the Lords debated the impact of rural crime on farming communities. It was noted that the current policing formula does not fully take account of the particular challenges and problems in rural and isolated areas. The North Yorkshire Police force was praised for being the first to establish a rural crime task force. Elsewhere, Ofcom published a spring 2019 update to keep the public informed of progress around connectivity. The main finding reveals that 95 per cent of UK premises are now able to receive superfast broadband. The report notes that BDUK-funded schemes are coming to an end, which is likely to slow digital connectivity increases in rural areas.
On Tuesday 7, there will be a short debate in the Commons on banking and the protection of access for consumers and small business owners. The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Rural Services meets to hear presentations on the challenges for young people in rural services, the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Ageing and Older People meets to discuss accessible homes.
On Wednesday 8, Rail Minister Andrew Jones MP will give evidence to the Transport Committee on the work of the Department for Transport. This will include topics such as investment, timetabling, accessibility, fares, ticketing and compensation.
On Thursday 9, there will be a debate in the House of Lords on the provision of suitable social housing for older people.
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