AirS Annual Conference
AirS had its Annual Conference last Friday and, as usual, the Norfolk Pavilion at the South of England Showground was packed. It is a little self indulgent to do so but I must record my awe at the organisational skill and dedication of those of my staff who put the whole day together. We heard from Nick Herbert, the Conservative opposition spokesman on rural affairs and from Serena Tierney the prospective Liberal Democrat candidate for Mid Sussex. Both were polished speakers and appeared genuinely to listen to some detailed points raised about rural community issues.
Nick Herbert focused on three strands of Conservative Party policy towards rural areas: 1. Equity in allocation of resources between urban and rural areas at a national level, 2. Subsidiarity in decision making to the lowest level possible and by this he meant elected local government and 3. Removing the blocks to people and communities doing things for themselves. (He also had some interesting views about the market solving rural areas difficulties in gaining access to fast broadband, but more about this in another thread.)
Question: Are these objectives mutually consistent? Resource allocation is a problem of the urban majority in the UK making decisions at the expense of a significant rural minority. In other words it is an equalities issue for that rural minority. A new government may want to solve this nationally; it remains to be seen whether it can. However, even shire Counties have a larger urban population than a rural one so, without being directive from the centre, how would a new government make this policy stick locally?