Rural England Meeting, London 9th June 2014.
Present: David Inman; Andy Dean; Brian Wilson; Jane Hart; Margaret Clarke; Alison McLean (Chair); Jerry Marshall.
Apologies: Sheena Asthana; Nigel Curry; Mark Shucksmith; Janice Banks; Howard Petch.
The meeting commenced at 1.30 p.m.
1. Last meeting
The notes of the last meeting were agreed as a correct record.
David Inman informed the group that the WI had been invited to join the group and that their assembly is due to discuss this matter very soon.
He updated the group on recent discussions with CCRI at the University of Gloucestershire which he hoped would develop closer working. He also commented that he understood that the Northern Rural Network was ambitious to expand their geographical coverage to become nationwide.
The importance of working with other rural orientated organisations was also emphasised.
2. Scheme preferences
There had been a disappointing response to the survey monkey exercise with just 4 responses received prior to the meeting (now 5) It was thought that perhaps the format was a barrier as some people may have anticipated a long and complicated questionnaire. It was agreed that an email be sent to members pointing out the ease of the exercise. The details established from the present interim position would be sent out. In addition, and particularly for the academics, a subsequent question be later posed to identify ’what have we missed? This would be sent to those who had replied.
3. Rural England Community Interest Company
Members were informed that the CIC had been set up (documentation supplied prior to the meeting). It was noted that the CICs remit was so worded as to provide flexibility for the future. Graham and David are currently the named directors of the CIC (although it is intended that Brian, Andy and Jane be added) and Rural England comprises the membership group. THE RE Directors were responsible for management and finances. The Members are the steering group overseeing RE’s direction and work. Any future changes to the membership would need to be agreed by both the directors and the members. Change of Directors required similar agreement.
Favourable comment was made about the inclusion of a social audit. A paper was requested for the January 2015 meeting in order to help refine the focus of the CICs objectives and to provide a timetable of what it aims to achieve by when.
The meeting formally invited Andy Dean, Brian Wilson and Jane Hart to become Directors
It was agreed that an email be sent to all members advising that the CIC had been set up and that they are now members of the company. For clarity a list of directors and members are to be sent out in the following format: name (name of organisation represented). They are attached as a schedule to these minutes.
4. Discussion with Business in the Community (BITC)
Attachment 2 to the papers had been sent to BITC and initial discussions to date were positive. Comment was made that BITC has a very extensive network and wide-ranging interests in rural issues. Rural England could perhaps help them to implement their strategies by helping them make contact with hard-to-reach groups. David advised that he hoped to hear more from the rural leadership team at BITC by the end of June and that he would let members know the outcome by email.
Discussions had taken place with Calor who are very supportive and prepared to play a pivotal role and are willing to promote Rural England to other companies- a grouping of around 20 companies would be a target who might be willing to sponsor sums of £5K to £8K.
5. Esmee Fairbairn Trust
Andy handed round a revised version of the draft first stage submission for funding which followed the specific format required by the Trust. If the first stage submission is successful it will lead to more detailed dialogue with the trust but even if unsuccessful it is hoped that it will act as a catalyst for future discussions.
The importance of delivering a strong message was emphasised as was the need to clearly link the group’s objectives to the proposal. Suggestions included: ‘giving rural people a stronger voice’, ‘giving the tools to shape our future’.
6. Lottery bid
David advised that he is trying to think through how we establish a dialogue with the lottery but that it is difficult to know the best approach. Tony Burton, Deputy Chair of the Big Lottery Fund was suggested as a possible contact.
7. UK Rural Policy and practitioners Group- Approach re Patron - Princess Anne
Sensitivities were identified regarding the timing of any approach in the run-up to the Scottish Independence Referendum. It was agreed to wait until September by which time the outcome of discussions with BITC should also be known.
8. Other business
David reported on a positive recent meeting with Janet Dwyer at CCRI which set out to explore opportunities for closer working.
It was suggested that CCRI, Calor and the WI all be invited to join the group. It was clarified that Calor would represent sponsors and that there is no intention to give every sponsor a seat and on that basis the suggestion was agreed.
It was agreed that an email containing notes of this meeting, information about the CIC, work area priorities and proposed new members be sent to all members within a month.
The next meeting will take place at c 1p.m on 3rd November 2014.
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