07 May 2020

The CLA team in the eastern region has been hard at work during the Covid-19 crisis. Here is a flavour of some of the areas of focus for our team during the current pandemic.

CLA East Regional Director - Cath Crowther

“It has been a very challenging time for the whole country but here at CLA East we have been working tirelessly for our members during the lockdown. I have been holding regular online meetings with branch chairs in our region and speaking with a wide-range of members about the difficulties they are facing due to the Covid-19 pandemic. 

“Through our lobbying work, we have provided a briefing to all rural MPs in our region regarding delaying the transition away from direct payments for farmers. This transition is currently scheduled for 2021 and the CLA believes it should be delayed by at least 12 months given the current uncertainties and disruption caused by Covid-19.

“We are continuing to lobby on your behalf on a range of other issues – from raising awareness of the possible increase in fly-tipping due to the current lockdown – to ensuring there are enough workers on farms to cover harvest this year. We are steadfast in our support to you and your rural business and are ensuring the voice of rural businesses is heard.”

CLA East Regional Surveyor - Alison Provis

“My time has largely been taken up with responding to the impact Covid-19 is having on our members and their businesses.  The initial raft of measures announced by the Chancellor to support the economy prompted a host of enquiries from members, to which we were able to react immediately to support and advise members on the topics important to them.

“I have been participating in the regional online branch chairman committee, which has been key to identifying the pitfalls of government initiatives to our membership. I have been immediately relaying this feedback to our London team who have reacted quickly to lobby government on these elements.”

CLA East Rural Adviser – Rachel Brooks

“A large part of my workload in recent weeks has involved contacting CLA members who have been concerned about potential labour shortages caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. It is a good example of how we have been hearing the concerns of our membership and using this feedback to shape our lobbying work on a national level. These case studies provide a powerful tool as we call for action from key decision-makers within government on the challenges our members face.

“I continue to have calls from members on a daily basis on issues of rural crime, countryside stewardship and BPS payments, all of which are issues that will undoubtedly continue once the Covid-19 pandemic finally begins to subside.”

CLA East Regional Surveyor - Tim Woodward

“While Covid-19 enquiries from members into our team have been frequent, we have also had a range of other matters where members have required our support. It is easy to be consumed by the national news currently and the impact of Covid-19, but our vast knowledge on all aspects of landownership allows us to continue our day-to-day work with relative ease, albeit we are home working. 

“I am in regular contact with our tax advisers and legal teams, who would normally be based in our London office, and liaising with them on advice our members require on a wide-range of matters. Our capacity and determination to support members during these challenging circumstances has not changed and we are here for you should need us on any rural business matter.”

CLA East Communications Manager - Lee Murphy

“Ensuring the voice of our members is heard during this difficult time has been extremely important. We have featured in the media regularly discussing subjects such as the importance of farm workers being classified as key workers and urging the public to consider working on farms during the lockdown, due to the difficulties posed by labour shortages.

“We have been producing regular email updates for members with the very latest Covid-19 information and there is an extensive catalogue of information on Covid-19 on our website. Through video updates on social media we have been giving members a flavour of our work during this difficult time and urging them to get in touch with any queries they have, no matter how big or small.”

CLA East Events Manager – Emily-Rose Debenham

“It was with a heavy heart that we had to cancel our spring and summer CLA events due to Covid-19, including our important AGMs and our involvement in county shows. These are a real highlight for all of us at the CLA as they provide a fantastic opportunity to meet with members and hear about their rural businesses.

“We are now embracing technology and offering a range of online webinars so that members don’t miss out on engaging with the CLA and gaining insight and information on a range of subjects. I urge you to keep an eye out for more CLA webinars over the coming weeks – you will find details of these on the CLA website.”

CLA Regional Coordinator – Alexandra Stone

“I am often the first voice you will hear when you contact the CLA East team and it has been a pleasure to speak to so many of you during this difficult time. For those members who have not reached out for support or advice from the CLA as of yet, we are proactively calling many of you to see if there is anything that we can do to help. We are here for you, so even if these calls acts only as a friendly voice and reassurance that we speaking up for you and your rural business then I hope it will be of value.”