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Government publishes strategy for rural England

The LGA is holding its annual rural conference in Windermere today, coinciding with Defra’s publication of the Rural Statement 2012.

The statement is based around three main priorities: economic growth, rural engagement, and quality of life.

The new environment secretary, Owen Paterson, said: “Rural economic growth is vital for this country. The Government’s role is to ensure that rural areas have all the infrastructure they need to grow. Businesses should then be free from the unnecessary Government red tape that has got in the way of rural economic growth in the past.

“For too long, rural England was neglected by central Government and its businesses struggled to achieve their ambitions. We’ve already transformed the prospects of thousands of rural businesses and, want to make sure that change is felt in every part of rural England. To do this, we’ve created the first ‘rural contract’ to give rural areas the power to hold us to account on our promise to grow the rural economy and support thriving rural communities.”

He stressed the importance of the superfast broadband roll-out, and will join other Defra ministers by going on ‘Rural Roadshows’ around the country.

Cllr Ken Hudson, chair of the Rural Commission at the LGA, said: “Today's statement will help provide some reassurance for rural communities of how the Government intends to improve their local economies and make their areas better places to live and work.

“Encouraging investment and growth in rural areas is a top priority for rural councils who have a long and proud history of promoting growth and finding solutions to local issues. Each community faces different barriers and priorities, and it is essential that the Government follows through with its promise to free up unnecessary central control and give local authorities the flexibility they need to act in the interests of their local population.

“Councils are best placed to make decisions based on their individual set of circumstances, and the LGA will be working closely with the Government to suggest how their current and new policies could be shaped to better meet rural needs.”

Visit LGA annual rural conference 2012

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