Election Asks – Embedding ‘Rural’ in Government Policy
The election tomorrow will determine who governs the country for the next 5 years. Whoever is in office will have a number of significant challenges to respond to in the short-term, such as the response to the recent acts of terrorism and Brexit. But alongside these are a range of domestic issues which will also need consideration and responses in the short, medium and longer-term.
To help achieve this, our national body Action for Communities in rural England (ACRE) has produced a short set of 10 policy proposals that identify the key issues facing rural communities and some of the responses that can be made to them. These emphasise how any future government can further ‘enable’ rural communities by providing additional support to grassroots activity shown to be effective, but also by removing and mitigating some of the key challenges they face.
A core message of the document is that people living in rural areas are affected by similar issues to those in towns and cities, but differences can and do exist in how and why these occur, who they affect and also in the responses that are made.
Within these, proposals to respond to key structural issues such as housing provision are addressed, particularly through support for the bottom-up delivery of affordable housing, but also through mechanisms such as Neighbourhood Planning which encourage community participation in tailoring development.
Also identified are issues around the provision of infrastructure and essential utilities which meet the needs of rural communities, but are also cost-effective, especially broadband, mobile networks, energy supply and public transport. Many rural areas currently face the ‘double whammy’ of limited provision or choice of services and disproportionately high costs for those which are available.
The document also seeks recognition and support to maintain and encourage grassroots activity, capacity and ‘know how’. Rural communities are synonymous with developing their own responses to the challenges that they face, many of which develop into successful social enterprises that bring many benefits, such as the provision of community buildings.
A copy of the full document is available here: ACRE General Election Asks 2017.
Action in rural Sussex is one of 38 organisations in England that forms part of the ACRE Network which represents and supports the needs of rural communities across England.