RSN Executive Meeting 9th January 2017

To download the agenda and the papers associated with the meeting click here


Councillor Cecilia Motley ( Chairman), Councillor Gordon Nicolson , Councillor Peter Stevens, Rev. Richard Kirlew, Graham Biggs CE, David Inman, Director.

1.   Apologies for Absence

Cllr Robert Heseltine- First Vice Chair
Cllr Sue Sanderson – Cumbria County Council
Cllr Derrick Haley – Mid Suffolk District Council
John Birtwistle – First Group
Cllr Janet Duncton – West Sussex County Council
Stewart Horne – Federation of Small Businesses
Cllr Peter Thornton – South Lakeland District Council
Christina Watson – UK Youth
Andy Dean – RSN
Cllr Lewis Strange – Lincolnshire County Council
Cllr Adam Paynter – Cornwall County Council

2.   Notes of the Previous Meeting

Held on Monday 26th September 2016 – Confirmed as a correct record

3.   Notes of the Main Meetings

RSP AGM -Confirmed as a correct record
RSN AGM; Sparse Rural ; Rural Assembly held on the 21st November 2016, – minutes not back from the LGA Secretariat at the time of the meeting

4.   Budget

The Chief Executive presented a report showing the position in relation to the 16-17 budget and an anticipated budget for 17-18. Members were satisfied with the current position and accepted the 17-18 budget.

5.   Lexington - Communications Strategy. Latest Position

The Chief Executive said this meeting had been set up in response to member's comments at the Blue Sky meeting with a view to establishing a stronger communications strategy.
Lexington would facilitate discussion and present their views and then it was for members to decide what was affordable. Discussions were also being had with Johann Tasker about amendments to his overall brief.
The Lexington meeting would be held on Tuesday 31st of January. It would last for an anticipated four hours. A good cross section of the Executive and the office consultants had been invited.


Provisional Settlement:
The position was outlined by Dan Bates of Pixel Consultancy and Graham Biggs. It was clear that under the Government proposals the gap per head of government funding between what urban received and what was received by his/her rural equivalent was widening again.

The Executive were subsequently given details of the meeting with the Minister when it was said that the Government would use the new Business Rate system to seek to create equity between the urban and rural position. Dan's sides would be circulated to all members.

Rural Fair Share Campaign by MPS
James Heappey and Steve Double had taken over as respective Chair and Vice Chair of rural Fair Share Group. They were concerned that the government were looking to widen the gap on grant and council tax levels still further and meetings were to be had both involving the full group (10th January) and later it was hoped with the Secretary of State.

Update on Business Rates
Dan Bates and Graham outlined the position as they saw it currently. There was continued feeling by the Executive that the position should no longer be influenced by a Density Factor on which no proper and detailed research had ever been undertaken while the Government continued to understate in the formula the Sparsity Factor where they had in fact accepted studies presented to them. Officers were asked to continue to emphasise this point.

7.   Update on matters from Blue Skies Decisions

Graham Biggs ran through items that were the main components of the Future Directions report.
(a) Wider Financial Brief
Discussions in the Office had taken place. Work on other topics would commence shortly but the position sought could only be to compare headline figures on grant per head and how rural fared in comparison with other areas. Although some representation through the Rural Fair Share Group was hoped for, detailed research work was not possible unless specific new resource was forthcoming from members or groups of members to take it forward.
(b) Rural- Urban Comparison Work
A diagrammatic and illustrative backbone for this work was on the Agenda from Dan Worth and Jane Hart. It was decided this backbone would be published on the RSN website and would be incrementally taken forward as resources permitted.
(c) Vulnerability.
David Inman detailed the anticipated rural position by 2039 when rural which currently had 25% of its population above 65 years of age would move up to a 1 in 3 ratio with one third of those people being over the age of 80. Although people were living longer generally the rural position would be twice as older person heavy than the national norm. Although many people might continue to enjoy good health the number who were vulnerable for either long or short term periods would increase considerably
The Executive agreed that it was really important that the group took a lead role here and sought to establish a number of initiatives. One that might be in conjunction with the Energy and Water industries was outlined.
It was also decided that the intended Social Care and Health Group which under the new timetable was to meet twice a year would have Vulnerability added to its title and terms of reference.
Councillor Nicholson promised to give an introduction to Social Inclusion initiatives that Eden were undertaking towards this area.
(d) Brexit
(e) Rural Overall Consensus Group
It was felt the need for such a mechanism became more important as events unfurled around Broadband and other major issues. Discussions were planned next month initially with DCN, CCN, ACRE and NALC.

8.   APPG Update

Two meetings of the APPG would take place this year. They would be chaired Jo Churchill MP with Rebecca Pow as the Vice Chair..

The intention was this might give capacity for a specific day and possibly a campaigning group on vulnerability and possibly if parliamentary support could be gained an APPG or campaigning group on Rural Brexit.

9.   Rural Health Conference

This was this year being undertaken on the 28th of February jointly with GOVDIRECT at the National Audit Office in London (11 a.m. to 4 p.m.)

10.   Launch of Rural England's State of The Rural Services Report

Although this was now essentially Rural England work the items arrising out of the report needed to be considered by the RSN in its representational role. The launch was to be on the 17th of January in the House of Commons and it was hoped some sixty people would be present on that occasion. It was also the opportunity to detail the Rural England initiative to all.

It was decided that the Executive would look at the report in more detail at their next meeting in March.

11.   Agenda for next Main Group Meetings

The next main meeting would be a Sparse Rural one and a lot of the meeting would be taken up by discussion on the financial items detailed above. It was also intended that Rural Vulnerability would be given detailed consideration.

12.   Any Other Business.

It was subsequently decided by the Chair that Philip Saunders (Devon CC and West Devon BC) would be asked to come on the Executive.


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