CLA stands up for rural businesses

20 January 2016

The CLA, which represents landowners, farmers and rural businesses, will launch a new report today to persuade politicians to unlock the potential of the rural economy.

‘Standing Up for Rural Businesses’ will today be presented by CLA President Ross Murray to the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Rural Business in the House of Commons. 

The report demonstrates the vital contribution that rural businesses make to the countryside and to the wider economy. It also highlights key issues for rural areas within the current political agenda, focusing on the Housing and Planning Bill, the Cities and Local Government Devolution Bill, and the anticipated Digital Economy Bill. Following the launch of this report, the CLA will be meeting with MPs and Peers to help ensure these important legislative changes deliver the right outcomes for rural areas.

CLA President and rural business owner Ross Murray comments: “The countryside is buzzing with economic potential, but too often the 646,000 rural businesses in England and Wales are overlooked. We are the Cinderella of the UK economy. Our vision is that a person setting up or growing a rural business should have the same opportunities as anyone seeking to do so in towns and cities.

“Successful rural businesses – from food, farming and forestry to tourism, leisure and retail – are the heartbeat that sustains the countryside. The CLA is committed to standing up for rural businesses, and we are taking these messages to politicians in Westminster, in Cardiff, and also by asking them to come and meet with rural business owners up and down the country.”

The Standing Up for Rural Businesses report highlights four priorities relating to the current political agenda. CLA President Ross Murray comments on these priorities:

  • Digital connectivity

“In rural areas, nearly half of all premises are connected by lines that are unable to receive speeds higher than 10Mbps. Communities taking the initiative to invest in their own connections should be empowered with access to match funding or other incentives, rather than penalised.”

  • The planning system

“Almost half of the applications made to convert redundant farm buildings in England into much-needed rural homes, are being refused. We have reached the point that where a local planning authority has not yet delivered a Local Plan, they must be forced to do so.”

  • Rural housing

“Rural businesses have a crucial role to play in tackling the housing crisis in the countryside. It is more important than ever to unlock the potential of private investment for housing delivery, along with a more positive approach to planning.”

  • Devolution

“Devolution deals must not ignore the potential for growth within the rural economy, nor the needs of rural businesses and communities.”

Julian Sturdy, MP for York Outer and Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Rural Business, said: “Rural businesses are the lifeblood of our countryside communities and they make a vital contribution to the national economy. The APPG for Rural Business was created to help Members from all parties to champion the cause of rural business, and the CLA’s Standing Up for Rural Businesses report will be a valuable and useful tool.”

The paper has also been warmly received by Workington MP Sue Hayman, who said: “As vice-chair of the APPG on Rural Business, I’m very pleased to support the launch of this important paper from the CLA.

“From digital connectivity to issues with housing supply in rural areas, it focuses on a number of absolutely critical issues for my constituents in Cumbria, and I look forward to working with the CLA and through the APPG to tackle these problems.” 

Click here to read the CLA Standing up for Rural Business paper