04/04/2022 - Rural Assembly Meeting

- To download the agenda associated with this meeting click here
- To download the minutes for this meeting, click here
- The Attendance and Apologies for this meeting can be found at the bottom these minutes

Rural Assembly Meeting
  1. Attendance & Apologies. (Appendix A)

Graham Biggs MBE, Chief Executive of the RSN welcomed everyone to the meeting and apologised for the Chair Cllr Motley and Vice Chair Cllr Phillips both being unable to attend the meeting. Apologies were taken as read.

  1. Notes from the previous RSN AGM & Rural Assembly meeting.

The record of the meeting held on 15th November 2021 was noted.

  1. Notes from the previous RSN Executive meetings.

The record of the following two meetings of the RSN Executive were noted.

  1. Guest Speaker from Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities Discussing the Levelling Up White Paper.

Owen Little, Senior Policy Advisor, Levelling Up Unit at Cabinet Office.

Owen delivered a presentation to attendees on the Levelling Up White Paper. He highlighted the four pillars and twelve missions of the White Paper. This policy is not about a one size fits all approach but tackling inequality and looking at where outcomes and opportunities are weaker and how public sector, private sector, voluntary sector agencies can all work together to start to change that.

He mentioned how the approach is about using the information that the Government has, to look at systems change and rewiring how decisions are made and properly understanding the impacts of policies on different areas of the country.

It was discussed how the Levelling Up White Paper does not address increased costs of delivery, particularly in rural areas and we need to think about how that could look in practice and how we achieve it.

Click here to view presentation from Owen Little, Levelling Up Unit at Cabinet Office.

The following two links were also provided to delegates from the RSN:

- Rural Lens Review: Levelling Up White Paper
- Critique: Overarching rural issues, plus actions proposed by the RSN

  1. RSN Achievements 2021.

Kerry Booth, Deputy Chief Executive of the RSN, highlighted last year’s RSN achievements and explained the wide range of activities that the RSN does on behalf of its membership.

  1. National Rural Conference 2022.

Kerry Booth gave an update on preparations for the National Rural Conference 2022, outlined the programme of potential conference sessions and informed that bookings are now open. Further details on the speakers and sessions will be announced in the coming months.Click here to view and book your place at the National Rural Conference 2022.

  1. Guest Speaker Presentations with Short Q&A’s.
  • Steve Dowling, Public Affairs Manager, The Association of Convenience Stores

Steve Dowling gave a presentation which highlighted key points from the Rural Shop Report 2022 and the vital role that local shops play for our rural communities.

79% of rural convenience stores are independently owned and almost 50% of customers know the people running and working in their shop quite well or very well.  In addition, 49% are isolated store, with no other retail or service business nearby.  These statistics help to shape the key role that the shops play, and the ways in which they need to be supported. The Association of Convenience Stores have a number of asks of Government including:

  • Prioritise Levelling UP Fund applications which improve access to local services.
  • Ensure LEPs reflect rural business at board level.
  • Rural proof all government legislation, including the Levelling Up Bill.

Click here to view presentation Steve Dowling, The Association of Convenience Stores.

Georgina Edwards’ presentation discussed the role of Community Businesses and Keep It in the Community (KIITC), an online register of Assets of Community Value (ACVs). Plunkett has taken over this database, relaunching it and refreshing the data included. Click here to access the database. The database will support members of the public to access information about ACVs in a consistent approach across an area or locate other similar successful projects. It can also be used by Local Authorities as an easy way to publish information about ACV in the public domain and create a consistent joined up approach across the country.

Attendees may be interested Protecting your pub – a guide prepared by CAMRA & The Forum of Private Business can be accessed here.

Click here to view presentation Georgina Edwards, Plunkett Foundation.

  1. Ukraine Refugee Situation.

What steps are organisations taking to support the settlement of Ukraine’s refugees and are there any particular barriers and challenges that need to be addressed in rural communities.

The following issues were discussed:

  • Difficulties in matching offers of accommodation with Ukraine refugees at the moment if you don’t have local contacts.
  • Impact on rural agriculture – supply chain length.
  1. Any Other Business.

There was some discussion amongst delegates of the issues surrounding AirBNB and second homes in rural areas and the negative impact on the rental accommodation market.

NICRE are currently collaborating with Building Digital UK (BDUK), part of the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) to seek businesses’ views on rural broadband connection. SMEs in rural areas are being invited to share their experiences of broadband connection and the effect this has on their business by completing a short survey. Click here to access the survey.

The next joint RSN AGM & Rural Assembly meeting is scheduled for Monday, 14th November 2022. Please click here to book your place in advance.

Attendance and Apologies:


Full Name


Vinia Abesamis

Herefordshire Council

Lydia Allen

National Youth Agency

Helen Belenger

Chichester District Council

Mandie Berry

North Somerset Council

Graham Biggs MBE

Rural Services Network

Kerry Booth

Rural Services Network

Steve Brain

Worcestershire County Council

Cllr Andrew Brown

North Norfolk Council

Ruth Buckley-Salmon

National Federation of Sub Postmasters

Lillian Burns

National Association of Local Councils (NALC)

Matthew Byrne

The Community Council for Somerset

Ian Cass

The Forum of Private Business

Matthew China

Wealden District Council

Cllr Stephen Clarke

West Northamptonshire Council

Amy Cobbett


Ross Cook

Herefordshire Council

Jaclyn Curry

National Innovation Centre for Rural Enterprise (NICRE) & Newcastle University

Lois Dale

Shropshire Council

Kate de Vries

Norfolk County Council

Steve Dowling

Association of Convenience Stores

Cllr Janet Duncton

West Sussex County Council

Georgina Edwards

Plunkett Foundation

Cllr Marion Fitzgerald

Allerdale Borough Council

Louise Flavell

Braintree District Council

Clare Free

Babergh and Mid Suffolk District Councils

Rachael Fullwood

Lincolnshire Rural Housing Association

Tim Goodship


Cllr William Gray

East Lindsey District Council

Ged Greaves

Borough Council of King’s Lynn and West Norfolk

Cath Gristy

University of Plymouth

Leani Haim

ONeill Homer Ltd

Kate Hampson

West Sussex County Council

Nik Harwood

Young Somerset

Nicola Healy

Babergh & Mid Suffolk District Councils

Paul Henry

Suffolk County Council

Cllr David Hitchiner

Herefordshire County Council

David Inman

Rural Services Network

Matt Jones

Suffolk County Council

Cllr Patrick Kimber

West Devon Borough Council

Ian Knowles

West Lindsey District Council

Karen Lawrenson

Lancashire County Council

Sarah Lee

Countryside Alliance

Marie Lehane

Health Education England

Owen Little

Cabinet Office

Holly Lombardo

National Rural Touring Forum

Emily MacDowell

Harrogate Borough Council

Jo Martin

Rural Business Network

Toby Matthews

Norfolk County Council

Cllr Julie Najuk

Gedling Borough Council

Cllr Iona Parker

Braintree District Council

Cllr Iona Parker

Braintree District Council

Cllr Adam Paynter

Cornwall Council

Jenny Pitcher

Mendip District Council

Tony Price

Trent & Dove Housing

Nicola Radford

Lincolnshire County Council

Mandy Ramm

Lincolnshire County Council

Julia Raven

West Northamptonshire Council

Cllr Helen Reeve

South Hams District Council

David Rogers


Cherie Root

Braintree District Council

Janice Rose

Northumberland County Council

Cllr Jeremy Savage

South Norfolk District Council

Cllr Margaret Squires

Mid Devon District Council

Cllr Virginia Taylor

Eden District Council

Nadine Trout

Rural Services Network

Michelle Turner

Lincolnshire Rural Housing Association

Alice Walpole

Cornwall Council

Cllr John Ward

Babergh District Council

Cllr Amy Wheelton

South Derbyshire District Council

Cllr Mark Whittington

Lincolnshire County Council

Peter Wills

Cornwall Council


Full Name


Cllr Philip Atkins

Staffordshire County Council

Amy Beckett

Stroud District Council

Cllr Owen Bierley

West Lindsey District Council

John Birtwistle

First Bus

Cllr Elizabeth Bowen

West Northamptonshire Council

Lee Carvell

Babergh and Mid Suffolk District Councils

Cllr Sue Cooper

South Oxfordshire District Council

Nora Corkery

Devon Communities Together

Michael Crawshaw

The Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust

Cllr Donald Davies

North Somerset Council

Fatima De Abreu

Local Government Association

Marina Di Salvatore

West Lindsey District Council

Laura Dixon

Devon Communities Together

Cllr John Evans

Uttlesford District Council

Ian Gillespie

English Rural Housing Association

Alan Gray

North Kesteven District Council

Ailish Henehan

Richmondshire District Council

Cllr Rita Heseltine

South Staffordshire Council

Inge Hill

Royal Agricultural University

Sarah Hulme

Arthur Rank Centre

Gavin Iredale

Reed in Partnership

Neil Irving

North Yorkshire County Council

Cllr Ken James

Torridge Borough Council

Cllr Val Keitch

South Somerset District Council

Mannie Ketley

Rugby Borough Council

Cllr Cecilia Motley

Shropshire Council

Cllr Jonathan Noble

Boston Borough Council

Cllr Elizabeth Nockolds

Borough Council of King's Lynn & West Norfolk

Gary Powell

Teignbridge District Council

Emily Preston

Hampshire County Council

Cllr John Redpath

Guildford Borough Council

David Rodda

Cornwall Council

Keeley Rudd

Community Council for Somerset

Joanne Scott

Sunderland City Council

Cllr Richard Sherras

Ribble Valley Borough Council

Niz Smith

Linkage Community Trust

Charlie Thornton

Eden District Council

Mark Trafford


Cllr Sarah Wakefield

Somerset West and Taunton Council



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