Hinterland - 08 July 2019

In Hinterland this week –  This week in Hinterland the LGA warns about the future and rural local authority areas, blooming road verges, the “Brexit of the Lambs”, older people living in poor conditions, radon gas and we finish with Beatrix Potter!!!  Read on....

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Millions in rural England risk being 'left behind' post-Brexit, councils warn

This very thoughtful and illuminating report is the latest in a useful list of analysis on this subject. It tells us:

Millions of people living in rural England are at risk of being 'left behind' and missing out on their fair share of future prosperity following the UK’s withdrawal from the EU, council leaders warn.

The Local Government Association (LGA) set up a Post-Brexit England Commission to examine the challenges and opportunities faced by non-metropolitan England. Its final report, published at the LGA’s Annual Conference in Bournemouth on 4 July 2019, argues that the challenges facing rural areas can only be met by passing down greater powers to local areas.

Towns and villages outside the big cities are facing unique challenges but are increasingly frustrated that the levers of power continue to be held in Westminster and Whitehall. 

LGA analysis finds the crucial issues faced by communities outside of England’s cities include:

A disproportionately ageing population which will see the majority rural areas reaching a “tipping point” of over 50 retired residents per 100 of working age residents by 2030, as younger people struggle to find jobs and homes locally and move away. Many council areas are already at that level today.

  • Durham currently has 53 retired residents per 100 of working age which is forecast to rise to 60 retired residents per 100 working age by 2026 and 76 retired per 100 working age by 2041.
  • North Norfolk has 63 retired residents per 100 of working age which is forecast to rise to 70 retired residents per 100 working age by 2026 and 86 retired per 100 working age by 2041.
  • West Dorset has 54 retired residents per 100 working age which is forecast to rise to 67 retired residents per 100 working age by 2026 and 88 retired per 100 working age by 2041.
  • Rother has 58 retired residents per 100 working age which is forecast to rise to 69 retired residents per 100 working age by 2026 and 89 retired per 100 working age by 2041.

Businesses that are on average 30 per cent less productive per job than urban areas with a major town centre, as economic growth in cities is fast-tracked by national Government through devolution deals and local industrial strategies.

Poor mobile and broadband connectivity across communities outside cities with only 42 per cent of rural residents receiving a 4G signal from every major mobile network operator in their homes.

Without their fair share of investment, councils are concerned that the brain drain away from rural areas and towards bigger cities and towns will continue. A new survey carried out for the LGA found seven in ten rural residents believe councils are best placed to improve their local areas and deliver the services communities desperately need. In sharp contrast, just 2 per cent said they believed central government was best placed to meet the needs of rural areas.

The LGA is calling for the Government to use the Spending Review to address the £8 billion overall funding gap facing councils by 2025.

Government also needs to recognise the growing sense of disconnection in rural England and the historic opportunity by giving councils the powers and freedoms to seize the initiative and make sure their communities and businesses can thrive.


Why are England's roadsides blooming?

If people with views that affect the countryside like your friend and mine Packham want something action orientated to get behind my suggestion is that this is a useful space to be in. This article tells us:

A long-running campaign encouraging councils to let neatly-mown grass verges become mini meadows where wildflowers and wildlife can flourish appears to be building up a head of steam.

Since 2013, Plantlife has been telling authorities the move could help them save money and boost their green credentials.

Several have taken the message on board. An eight-mile "river of flowers" alongside a major route in Rotherham was widely praised on social media recently and roadside meadows have also popped up in Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire, Birmingham, Newcastle and Sheffield.

Rotherham Borough Council said its efforts had saved an estimated £23,000 a year in mowing costs.

A slightly more modest £150 was the estimated saving made by Nottinghamshire County Council during last year's pilot.

The authority said this was because its mowing teams still needed to visit each of the six locations to trim back sections affecting motorist visibility.


Health of older people suffering in poor housing, MPs warn

This is not just an urban phenomenon a fair chunk of the rural housing stock has problems relating to its age and vulnerability. This story tells us:

More than 2 million older people are suffering physical and mental ill health and even death as a consequence of living in substandard and non-accessible homes, according to a cross-party group of MPs.

Substandard housing costs the NHS £1.4bn every year with cold, damp and other hazards causing falls and exacerbating conditions such as heart disease, strokes, respiratory illnesses and arthritis as well as contributing to poor mental health, according to an in-depth inquiry by the all-party parliamentary group for ageing and older people.

“Many older people are living in unsafe, unsuitable and unhealthy accommodation with little hope of being able to move somewhere better or improve their homes,” said Rachael Maskell MP, chair of the group. “Unless we work to find tangible solutions, older people and some of the most vulnerable in society will continue to live in substandard and unsuitable accommodation, the implications of which could be devastating to their physical, mental and social wellbeing.”

The report into decent and accessible homes for older people comes after an in-depth inquiry over the last year into the link between health and housing, home ownership, supported housing, and the private rented sector.

The inquiry also predicted that the number of older people renting in the private sector would soar in the coming years – often in unsafe, unsuitable and unhealthy accommodation.

Currently households comprising people aged over 65 account for less than 10% of all those living in the private rented sector, but their numbers are reportedly rising fast: a recent survey by the National Landlords Association found that the numbers of retired people in the UK moving into the private rented sector had increased by 200,000 over the last four years.


No-deal Brexit could cause mass slaughter of UK lambs as end of European trade spells ‘disaster’ for farmers

Here’s a worrying throught!!

no-deal Brexit would be “absolutely disastrous” for agriculture in the UK – leading to the mass slaughter of lambs and many British agriculture workers going out of business, the head of the National Union of Farmers(NUF) has warned.

Minette Batters warned that the UK is unable to eat the amount of lamb it produces and depends on trade relations with France, which buys 40 per cent of the nation’s sheep meat, to sell on the product.

If British farmers were unable to effectively trade with the continent due to tariffs, she warned it could cause a vast surplus and lead to the mass slaughter of UK sheep.


UK maps of radon

This new map confirms the challenge of radon in a number of rural areas, particularly in the South West. Have a look at the map for more information.

Every building contains radon but the levels are usually low. The chances of a higher level depend on the type of ground. Public Health England has published a map showing where high levels are more likely. The darker the colour the greater the chance of a higher level. The chance is less than one home in a hundred in the white areas and greater than one in three in the darkest areas.


 And Finally

Animals return to meadows which inspired Beatrix Potter after 25-year restoration project

After many decades Beatrix Potter is still a name to conjure with when it comes to the English countryside as this story reveals. It tells us:

When country mouse Timmy Willie describes his rural home in Beatrix Potter’s The Tale of Johnny Town-Mouse, he enthuses over the “roses and pinks and pansies - no noise except the birds and the bees, and the lambs in the meadow.”

Now those meadows, which inspired Potter to create her magical world of animal adventures, have been restored by The National Trust, and the creatures that one resided there have returned.

The fields which surrounded Hill Top Farm, near Sawrey,  in the Lake District, were abundant with wildlife when Potter moved to the area in 1905. 

But they were ploughed up during the first and second world wars under schemes such as Dig for Victory, organised by the Ministry of Agriculture...


About the author:
Hinterland is written for the Rural Services Network by Ivan Annibal, of rural economic practitioners Rose Regeneration.


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