The Chair welcomed colleagues to the meeting. Apologies were taken as read.
Members noted that Councillor Motley had decided not to stand for re-election as the Chair of the Rural Services Network. She outlined achievements of the organisation during her time as Chair and extended her thanks to colleagues in the team and members.
She nominated Cllr Roger Phillips (Herefordshire Council) as her successor. The nomination was seconded and supported by members of the group. Colleagues extended their thanks to Cllr Motley for her dedication during her tenure as Chair of the RSN.
Graham Biggs (RSN) officially announced Cllr Roger Philips as Chair without any objection. The new Chair took over leading the meeting at this point and moved onto nominations for Deputy Chair.
Nominations for Deputy and Vice Chairs were made as follow:
Both nominations were accepted without opposition.
The Members of the Executive Board as set out in the Agenda were also agreed by the meeting without opposition.
Graham Biggs invited any members who might be interested in joining the Executive to contact himself, Roger Phillips or Kerry Booth.
The notes were accepted as a correct record.
Members received the report which explained changes for the forthcoming year and its impact on RSN finances. Cllr Phillips outlined consequences of inflation and medium-term financial plans. He informed colleagues that membership costs will need to go up to 5% for this year in order to cover additional costs.
Members said that a breakdown of benefits of membership in terms of RSDG and what has been achieved would be useful.
The Revised 2022/23 budget report be noted
SPARSE and Rural Assembly membership fees both be increased by 5% with effect from 1st April 2023
The fees for all other membership Groups be increased by 2% with effect from 1st April 2023
The Recommended Original Budget for 2023/24 be approved
That in accordance with current practice the RSN Executive be authorised to approve in year variations to the Budgets
Members noted that Kerry Booth, Chief Executive Designate, will be taking over from Graham Biggs as Chief Executive in April 2023.
The group noted the report and Kerry provided an update to members on campaigning priorities which had been put to the Executive and agreed as recommendations to this meeting
The RSN is focusing on a core set of priorities with Fair Funding being the main focus of the work of the organisation. This will be supported with the four main priorities, Affordable Rural Housing, Rural Economy, Rural Transport and Health and Care Services. These would all be underpinned by cross cutting priorities focusing on Rural Planning, Rural Net Zero and Rural Connectivity.
The Revised RSN Campaigning priorities were approved
The Chair briefly spoke about the online meetings and Kerry referred to the benefits of online seminars run by RSN with a significant improvement of attendees and a wider reach of delegates across organisations.
Kerry will explore the option of the RSN having a presence in person at the LGA Conference next year.
Members noted meeting dates for the next year.
Members approved the minutes as read.
Members received a video clip from the recent debate in the Commons about levelling up for rural areas.
The Chair welcomed Philip Dunne MP and outlined recent meetings about the work of RSN.
Mr Dunne expressed his appreciation of the work of the previous Chair and congratulated Cllr Phillips on his election. He went on to outline the conversation held at the recent debate and confirmed that the new Minister, Lee Rowley MP has agreed to hold a meeting with the APPG to discuss rural fair funding.
The Minister acknowledged difficulties around budget planning and the elevated cost of living for councils and residents in rural areas. Members were pleased to hear that the new Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, is aware of issues and is also enthusiastic to help these matters with a focus via the Autumn statement expected later in the month.
Mr Dunne referred to the work of APPG, particularly around fuel poverty and issues around the government promise to assist via a £400 payment to households. He spoke about decarbonisation and energy efficiency measures and discussions with Lord Callanan however attendance at meetings have not been great. A meeting with the Minister will be arranged soon..
Cllr Phillips invited comments and members said:
Mr Dunne responded to comments, agreeing to take these points forward to relevant parties, including the National Grid and the Minister.
The Chair thanked Mr Dunne and pledged support for his work around finding practical solutions to the problems around cost of energy.
To view the recent back bench debate on Levelling Up in Rural Britain and Lee Rowley MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State in the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities response, see:
The Chair invited Kerry Booth to introduce this item and members received a link to the video of RSN work.
She outlined achievements, including:
Kerry acknowledged advantages in being able to influence via virtual meetings with greater and better access to key people at short notice.
To find out more about our Revitalising Rural: Realising the Vision campaign, please follow this link:
To read Rural Lens reviews, please visit the following link:
You may be interested in this Levelling Up research that we have done:
We've done an analysis of Mission 1, 3, 4 and 10 for each local authority in Sparse membership of RSN, you can see your local figures at this link:
You may be interested in our research into the Rural Cost of Living Crisis:
To find out how the RSN has been influencing please see our in the news section on our website:
Kerry gave a short presentation about the National Rural Conference, which was held in September 2022, and focussed upon Reducing Rural Inequalities and Improving Opportunities.
Members were invited to contact the RSN on email@example.com if they wish to engage and share best practice, particularly if they wished to speak at the conference next year and raise key issues to discuss.
The Chair commended the work of RSN, and members noted links via the Chat for more information.
If you are interested in RSN future events, please visit the following link to view our events calendar and book your place:
Cllr Phillips welcomed speakers to the meeting.
Sarah McClelland, (Principal Consultant, Turner and Townsend) provided members with a presentation on the Home Upgrade Grant Phase 2 and the Home Upgrade Hub and provided information about technical support provided by the organisation.
She asked colleagues to check that all rural local authorities are aware of the scheme and the procedures needed to submit.
The Chair acknowledged the understanding of local authorities’ pressures and the availability of assistance and support with any challenges they might be facing. Members noted the deadline for submission.
Kerry assured colleagues that an email with the presentation will be sent to all authorities and a reminder of the deadline put into the bulletin. The Chair thanked the speaker and agreed to spread information about the scheme.
Information can be found at:
The Chair then welcomed Helen Wright Rural Policy & Partnerships Manager, East Riding of Yorkshire Council who had agreed to attend to speak to members about development of their Rural Strategy.
Members received a presentation on the work of the Partnership as responsible for the development, monitoring and review of the East Riding of Yorkshire Rural Strategy. The speaker outlined its history and noted that it now has a membership of 50 organisations covering all aspects of rural life.
Helen spoke about particular issues that have underpinned the strategy and ways in which the rural profile has been raised by providing an efficient communication channel for sharing effective information. Members noted achievements bought about via the partnership and integration of key stakeholders.
Cllr Phillips thanked the speaker, acknowledging the commitment made by East Riding Council on addressing rural issues and policies.
To find out more about East Riding of Yorkshire Council, visit:
Cllr Phillips asked colleagues to consider priorities over the next 12 months. He invited suggestions for future agendas.
Mr Biggs took the opportunity to confirm that, although agreement on the RSN’s campaign priorities had taken place earlier in the meeting, there was flexibility to amend it as required throughout the year. He referred to the need to ensure that rural impacts are relayed to relevant Ministers.
Members made a few comments, including:
Members noted the dates of future meetings.
Cllr Phillips reminded colleagues to continue to lobby their MPs on rural issues and provided a quick summary of what had been agreed in the conversation today.
He thanked secretariat colleagues for their input and ended the meeting.
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