Hinterland - 27 January 2020

Hinterland this week - innovation in IT, some sour grapes over funding formulae, fruit and veg, rural cashback, electric cars and Kilvert’s diary…

*         *          *

Sleaford MP calls for more British fruit and veg to be grown and eaten to boost children’s health and the rural economy

Really interesting and thoughtful contribution about the future of health from one of my local M.Ps.

Sleaford and North Hykeham’s MP has called for more fruit and vegetables to be grown and consumed in the UK to boost people’s ‘five a day’ intake while supporting British farmers.

A farmer’s wife, Dr Caroline Johnson MP was speaking on Tuesday in the House of Commons in a debate on a continuation of direct payments to farmers for the coming year during the transition period after the UK leaves the EU.

In one of several points she made in the hearing of the Bill, she called for subsidy payments for farmers from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs to be speedy and also for small farmers to be supported in applying for some of the grants available.

She said: “What has changed is that, 30 years ago, 83 per cent of that fruit and veg was produced in the UK, and now only 54 per cent is grown here. That means that we have a huge capacity to improve the amount of home-grown fruit and veg. In fact, we could grow the sector by 66 per cent overnight if people were to consume their five a day immediately.”

She urged the department to think of the public good of producing extra food as well as producing environmental access improvements linked to grants for farmers and their land. 

“We should think of food production, particularly fruit and veg production, as a great public good for our society, as it would really help to improve the health of our nation.

Gigaclear and Linksys team up for rural broadband boost

I am often fascinated by how the evolution of technology can improve the quality of life in rural areas. This is a very interesting story in that context. It tells us:

Rural homes across the UK could be set to enjoy a connectivity boost thanks to a new partnership between Linksys and Gigaclear.

The rural broadband provider has announced a tie-up with the router firmts to offer an in-home Smart WiFi "mesh home" system that should allow customers to enjoy faster speeds and more reliable connectivity.

Gigaclear says that the new platform will overcome many of the unique challenges that appear when connecting rural properties, including metal, mirrors, concrete, impenetrable stone walls, large rooms and unusual property layouts.

Its network essentially casts a ‘WiFi bubble’ over an area, giving users the chance to get online and work from home, stream TV or movies, or just catch up with friends, family and co-workers. 

The network, based on Linksys Velop routers, can be extended throughout the home by adding a series of interconnected nodes to expand WiFi coverage, as opposed to traditional boosters, which simply relay the signal.


Former 'red wall' areas could lose millions in council funding review

A shame this is being politicized. To my mind its more about an impartial process of fairness than politics, with rural places deserving a fair rebalancing, but then who am I to urge rational fairness in these ultra selfish times?

A reallocation of council funding could redirect hundreds of millions of pounds from so-called left-behind communities in the north of England to the leafy southern shires, analysis has found, leaving many newly Conservative voting “red wall” areas facing fresh cuts to local services.

Under a review of the local authority funding formula, £320m a year could be shifted out of councils in England’s most deprived areas while Tory-controlled shire councils mainly in the south-east gain £300m.

High-profile losers include many constituencies that elected new Tory MPs in December, including Workington, which would suffer from Cumbria county council’s £5m loss, and Sedgefield, which would feel the impact of £10m being taken out of Durham county council.

An estimated 37 of the 50 new Tory MPs – amounting to 70% of the gains made by the Conservatives at the general election – represent areas that are set to lose millions a year. Other notable losers include Stoke-on-Trent, Redcar, West Bromwich, Bishop Auckland, Grimsby and Leigh.


Visa launches scheme to enhance access to cash in rural areas

Rural cashback – “red in tooth and claw”!!

Visa has launched an industry-wide ‘access to cash’ scheme with its partner banks to encourage retailers to offer cashback.

The new initiative specifically targets areas in the UK where consumers currently struggle to access cash, such as remote and rural locations. Additionally, it will incentivise shops and businesses to offer cashback to consumers using their Visa debit cards.

Jeni Mundy, Visa Managing Director, UK & Ireland, said: “The popularity of digital payments continues to surge across the UK, however we know that cash still plays a vital part in the lives of many.

“This is why we want to help increase the number of options that people have to gain access to cash, helping to extend financial inclusion by enabling customers to choose how they pay – be that by cash, cards, mobile devices or other means. We also hope our scheme will encourage people in the target areas to visit their local shops at a challenging time for retailers.”

The scheme aims to increase the number of locations where cashback is offered. Cashback has been available in the UK since 1990, however, Visa has seen transaction volume declining in recent years.


Electric car revolution not confined to cities, says Honda UK

This article provides very interesting food for thought and identifies behaviours we might not have anticipated. It shows the value of getting more electric charging points into rural England. It tells us:

Japanese firm has found that rural EV registrations are high in the UK, where access to petrol stations is limited. Motorists in rural areas are challenging the stereotype that electric car buyers are confined to cities.

That’s according to research by Honda UK, which found that there are electric car hotspots in rural communities where buyers don’t necessarily have easy access to petrol stations.

At the launch of the Honda e – a small electric vehicle targeted at inner-city buyers – the firm’s UK division said buying habits were challenging established views.

Phil Webb, head of car for Honda UK, told the PA news agency that the research had raised the question: “Why is there an intense number of electric vehicle registrations in rural areas, particularly Cornwall and the north of Scotland?”

He explained that one visit to a dealer in Scotland proved particularly eye-opening, saying: “He’s a dealer in a village and there’s not a lot else there. He was telling me that people are going down the electric route because their nearest petrol station is 15 – 20 miles away, but all they want to do is pop to the shops or take the kids to school, so in an electric car, for them, it’s self-sustaining.

“They’re in control of when they charge it – overnight for example – and no longer have that inconvenience of having to go out of their way to a petrol station.


And Finally

Is this the greatest account of rural Britain ever written?

What is your favourite account of life in Rural Britain? – Cider with Rosie is close to the top of my list….

In 1870, country parson Francis Kilvert began a diary of his ‘uneventful life’. The result, says Mark Bostridge, is sublime

One hundred and fifty years ago, in January 1870, a young curate in Clyro, a small village near Hay-on-Wye on the Welsh borders, began a diary. His name was Francis Kilvert. He was 29 years old, tall, with a dark beard. A cousin of his would remember him long afterwards as “very sleek and glossy, rather like a nice Newfoundland dog”.

While he ministered to parishes in Wales, as well as in Wiltshire, the county of his birth, Kilvert remained lovingly attentive to this daily record of his life for the next nine years, until the year of his death at the age of 38. Eventually published in three volumes – in the years 1938, 1939, and 1940 – Kilvert’s Diary was immediately acclaimed...


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


Sign up to our newsletter to receive all the latest news and updates.