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

RSN National Conference 2023: And we are off!

Our annual conference has started with a bang this year thanks to all our fantastic speakers and delegates.  

Speaking after the second day, RSN Chief Executive Kerry Booth said:

“So far we have welcomed more than 140 people into our virtual sessions and it has been great to hear their feedback on the issues effecting them and the communities they serve. I’m looking forward to seeing what the rest of the week brings.”

The opening session on Monday looked at Fair Funding and what needs to be done to address the inequalities between urban and rural areas. RSN Chief Executive Kerry Booth was joined by RSN Chairman, Cllr Roger Philips, and Chair of the APPG for Rural Services, Derek Thomas MP.

The second session of the day considered the Rural Economy, Levelling Up & Regeneration.  Once again Cllr Phillips was joined by Phil Clifford from the LGA, Paul Wood, Head of Economic Development and Regeneration at East Suffolk Council and Prof. Stephen Roper from NICRE.

Paul Wood showcased how they are delivering rural development in East Suffolk including post Covid activity and future proofing with initiatives like the inclusive towns programme. He told delegates “rural delivery is very important….we are taking a focused approach”.

Meanwhile, Prof Stephen Roper from NICRE shared the early results from the NICRE 2023 State of Rural Enterprise Survey.  He told delegates that rural businesses had responded to the survey to say they were feeling the pressure of the current economic crisis and were increasing prices as a result.  However, the survey also identified a series of opportunities for rural areas including around wellbeing and the environment.  Prof Roper said they hoped their research would “help make a strong case for regional representation in the Party manifestos as we lead up to the next General Election.”

Attention turned to Rural Affordable Housing on Tuesday, with speakers from the National Housing Federation and Broadacres Housing Association setting out the reality facing many local authorities. The presentation that sparked the most comments came from Alex Rehaag, the Principle Affordable Housing Officer at South Hams District Council & West Devon Borough Council and Christine Phillipson, the Chairperson at Newton and Noss Community Land Trust.  They told delegates about how they are ‘delivering rural housing to suit all by taking ‘A Different Approach’ or ADA. 

The organisation, is a “community led housing model that seeks to rebalance the existing housing market by delivering a range of new and innovative housing tenures and employment solutions in rural communities based on need identified by the community, enabling them to grow and thrive.

“It supports Community Land Trusts, Neighbourhood Plan Groups and Communities to provide housing solutions to meet the diverse needs of rural communities.”

The innovative new approach captured delegates’ imaginations and the RSN team is now facilitating conversations from interested parties.

Whilst bookings for the rest of the week are now closed, please contact a member of the RSN events team if you are an RSN member and there is a session of particular interest you'd like to attend, we will endeavour to help!


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