The National Rural Conference 2024

The Rural Services Network (RSN) is thrilled to announce the National Rural Conference 2024, taking place from 16th to 19th September. This virtual event, accessible via Zoom, is the premier gathering for senior officers, members, policymakers, and rural service professionals.
Further information and booking details can be found here

PM promises the right investment in transport

Using his speech at the Conservative Party Conference, Rishi Sunak unveiled plans to scrap HS2 and redirect the money to a number of other transport projects.

He told the conference that:

“We'll fund the Shipley bypass, the Blyth relief road and deliver 70 other road schemes. We'll resurface roads across the country. We'll bring back the Don Valley line. We'll upgrade the energy coast line between Carlisle, Workington and Barrow. Build hundreds of other schemes. And keep the £2 bus fare across the whole country.”

For rural areas like Devon in the South West, that means an investment in rail and bus services. The new plans will see the reopening and reintroducing passenger services to Wellington and Cullompton and five miles of track being reinstated and a new station at Tavistock to connect it with Plymouth.  

Funding has also been allocated to complete the South West Resilience Programme which will make the route between Exeter and Plymouth via Dawlish more resilient in extreme weather.

However, Chief Executive RSN Kerry Booth has expressed her concerns about the approach.  She said:

“Of course we welcome any investment which improves the lives of our rural communities.  However, we need to understand how these fits in with the government’s wider Rural Transport Strategy.  It is great having better rail connections, but can the Prime Minister guarantee that these communities will have the bus services to get to the station in the first place?  Or will they have to camp overnight to ensure they can catch the first train of the day? 

“Until we have a holistic approach to transport in rural areas, a piecemeal approach won’t help anyone. I urge the government to avoid rhetoric and headline grabbing projects and publish their long-awaited Rural Transport Strategy.”

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