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Graham Biggs, Chief Executive of The Rural Services Network (RSN) said:
“It is deeply disappointing that the Government has rejected the Lords Rural Economy Committee’s recommendation for a comprehensive rural strategy to ensure the health of Britain’s rural areas, despite the wealth of evidence in that Report to support the recommendation”
“If everything was a rosy as the Government’s response seems to suggest then those who gave evidence to the Committee would not have said what they did. To suggest that if you have rural proofing a Rural Strategy is not needed and to suggest that a Strategy could be a strait jacket completely misses the point and misrepresents the purpose of a Rural Strategy”
“While we welcome the Government’s commitment to expand on its strategic vision for rural areas, overall the failure to implement a rural strategy constitutes a worrying missed opportunity and risks a continuation of the status quo. We need to see how this strategic vision is to be introduced and whether or not it has SMART targets to be able to monitor its delivery”
“We support the Government’s commitment to set out cross-departmental measures to ensure rural areas can thrive, but if these are to succeed it is absolutely essential that the current inadequate piecemeal method of delivery and ‘rural proofing’ of policymaking is entirely overhauled.
“A robust, open and accountable rural proofing framework must be established to sit across all Government departments to ensure that the needs of rural residents are considered and met by all, from the Treasury to the Department for Transport.
“Yet again the Government’s attitude towards rural communities has left them feeling frustrated and ignored. The new Prime Minister must make good on promises to protect and encourage a valuable and significant proportion of the UK.
“The RSN will continue pressing the case for a comprehensive, funded cross-departmental rural strategy – back up by robust rural proofing and its sure that its many supporters will also do so. This is the start of the journey and definitely not the end”.
Chief executive of the Rural Services Network (RSN), Graham Biggs, is available for interview to comment on the response and the deep-seated challenges to the sustainability of rural communities. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org to make arrangements.
RSN is the national champion for rural services, ensuring that people in rural areas have a strong voice. The organisation launched its ‘Time for a Rural Strategy’ campaign in March with support from the Church of England. The campaign calls on the Government to produce an urgent comprehensive strategy for rural areas in preparation for Brexit, in light of a warning that people living in ours towns and villages ‘simply cannot afford to wait any longer for politicians to take their concerns seriously and act on them’.
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