Cllr Roger Begy (Chairman), Cllr Robert Heseltine (Yorkshire), Cllr Betty Harvey (County), Cllr Cecilia Motley (Midlands), Cllr Julian German (South), John Birtwistle (Transport), Stuart Horne (Business)
David Inman (Director), Dan Bates (Finance Director), Johann Tasker (Media Director)
Neil Benn (Pixel)
Cllr Mac Cotterill (East), Cllr Hilary Carrick (co-opted), Cllr Derek Haley (co-opted), Graham Biggs (Chief Executive), David Dickinson (Newark & Sherwood)
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1. Minutes of last Executive Meeting (see Attachment 1)
Updated number of authorities giving voluntary subscriptions and in membership, Defra Rural Paper, abolition of CRC, rsnonline access were given.
Stuart Horne said the LEPs position had not been able to be progressed but Julian German suggested we look at this, Rural Growth Networks and Local Nature Partnerships to see if there was any need for a most rural grouping. It was felt the September Executive needed to “blue sky” Group priorities.
2. Private Sector Section (see Attachment 2)
Basis of the report approved by The Group but the report would be considered further at the September Executive.
In the meantime food companies, the Aggregates Levy Board and Waste Recycling organisations be approached.
3. Rural Services Partnership (see Attachment 3)
Report approved. In addition the position in relation to Police Scrutiny Panels and a rural group relating to Police Commissioners would be evaluated.
4. Revised Constitution (See Attachment 4)
Report approved. Draft would go before the AGM.
5. A Rural Unitary Group (See Attachment 5)
Report approved. There was a majority feeling that the overall interests of The Group would be best served by this move which would bring both district and county issues to the fore although others were a little concerned about sub decisions of this nature.
6. Fairer Funding and Business Rates
a. Dan Bates gave an update on the Fairer Funding position established and the campaigning with rural MPs that it was anticipated would need to occur in the summer.
b. Neil Benn detailed his view on the revised business rate scheme which had sought to introduce a slightly more stable position with a fixed funding allowance as well as business rate based payments. He still felt despite the ‘improvement’ there may be a risk to some shire districts if unanticipated business rate changes occurred.
c. The position in relation to:
i. Housing Benefit (link to Institute of Fiscal Studies paper to be provided)
ii. Adult Social Care
iii. The threat to small rural schools
It was felt there should be a concerted effort to draw the impact of all of this to the attention of Rural MPs.
7. The ‘Countryside Round Table’
Brief update on this possible initiative centred concerning fuel poverty was given.
8. Budget (See Attachment 6)
Report on the latest position was circulated.
9. CCRI Relationship and a Tender Bid
A verbal report was given on liaison taking place with the Universities of the South West and Gloucestershire.
10. The National Trust
A report was given about explanatory discussions which had taken place about a possible ‘Compact of Understanding’ with this organisation.
11. The Rural Health Conference
An update was given about the position reached. The emergence of new organisations was of course of significance.
12. RCPU Rural Paper
It was understood this may now be released in July.
13. Parliamentary Rural Fair Share Group
The steps being taken to establish this parliamentary group were detailed. The possibility of a ‘Rural Parliamentary Dinner’ had been mooted.
14. Rural Bus Services – Recent Developments
John Birtwistle detailed the possibilities being explored between the industry and the Department of Transport and the possible implications for rural areas.
15. Updating of the Website
Johann Tasker detailed the update taking place which continued a move in emphasis from a news orientated site to a general member information site. It was anticipated that the update would be completed by the end of August. The service had received some 5,000 hits per month. The target would be to achieve 10,000 hits in a year’s time.
16. Communications Strategy (See Attachment 7)
A paper was presented detailing how a strategy aimed at some 20 press releases a year (12 prepared and 8 reactive) might be introduced for RSN general matters. The service would be supplementary to the Sparse Rural service.
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