Local Growth White Paper recognises ‘importance of rural economy’The CLA today (Thursday, 28 October) welcomed the recognition in the Government's Local Growth White Paper of the importance of the rural economy in stimulating greater national economic activity.
CLA West Midlands director Caroline Bedell said the CLA, whose members run around 250 different types of business, has been at the forefront of challenging Government to acknowledge the part that rural business plays in generating economic growth.
Mrs Bedell said: "We are delighted our position has finally been accepted by Government. Now it needs to follow through by making the necessary changes to national planning policy for economic development in rural areas, thus removing the obstacles currently encountered by entrepreneurs in the countryside.
"The role a more dynamic rural business sector can play is fundamental to stimulating economic recovery. The CLA has long said that a structural reform of the planning system is central to this, and we were very pleased that this was identified as a Government priority in last week's Comprehensive Spending Review and in today's White Paper."
The CLA regional leader continued: "It is also essential the new Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) announced by the Secretary of State for Business take into account the needs of rural areas. This must include transparent representation of rural businesses on the boards of the newly agreed LEPs. Without such representation, the rural-urban divide will continue to grow."
Mrs Bedell said that the CLA was concerned about the "lack of clarity" regarding the Rural Development Programme for England (RDPE), a seven-year programme of measures that supports England's rural areas by helping the competitiveness of farming and wider rural development.
She added: "Deep uncertainty faces the RDPE as a result of the restructuring of the delivery organisations and the Comprehensive Spending Review. While the White Paper makes it clear that RDPE administration will in future be centralised, there are scant details of how this will be done. It is vital there is no interruption of the programmes of measures."
The CLA will be lobbying on all these points with the relevant Ministers and officials.
* The Government made its comment on the importance of the rural economy in paragraph 1.17 of the Local Growth White Paper, which can be downloaded at: http://www.bis.gov.uk/assets/biscore/regional/docs/l/cm7961-local-growth-white-paper.pdf.
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Caroline Bedell MRICS FAAV
Caroline leads the Midlands team and has overall responsibility for the management of the CLA’s regional business and membership.
A qualified Chartered Surveyor respected throughout the industry, she also represents the CLA on a wide range of regional committees and panels.
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