On Saturday 27th April, the House of Lords Select Committee on the Rural Economy published a much anticipated report on the rural economy in England. ‘Time for a strategy for the rural economy’ sets out a range of recommendations across different policy areas to tackle the challenges facing the rural economy.
Janet was invited to provide evidence during the consultation phase where she spoke about how austerity in public services has had a disproportionate effect on rural areas, impacted upon the rural economy, which in turn affects rural quality of life. She also highlighted the uncertainty and challenges faced by farming in the future due to Brexit. Issues relating to housing, planning, local service delivery and digital connectivity are also addressed. The CCRI has been particularly interested in the publication of this report due to the nature of much of the work conducted here. Based in Gloucestershire, a county classified as ‘Urban with significant rural‘, the recommendations will potentially have significance for its rural residents, who account for around 30% of the total population. Mark Smith from BBC Gloucestershire visited CCRI earlier this week to interview Janet and ask her about the report and her contribution to it.
During the interview, which can be heard on Sunday 5th May on BBC Radio Gloucestershire, Janet explained that Government strategies for rural areas are at risk of becoming lost in the post-Brexit planning due to ensuring measures to support farms and issues related to industry are prioritised. She also commented that there are increasing demands for a rural strategy to be considered within policy making, and that issues related to digital coverage and retaining a ‘bottom-up’ approach to local development were both particularly important to ensure the future viability of rural areas.