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Spring Conference ~ consultation on "Rural Communities"

March 15, 2017 5:17 PM

Liberal Democrat Policy

An important feature of Liberal Democrat conferences is the opportunity not just to debate and decide on party policy, but actually to shape it. Each conference schedules a number of sessions for consultation of policies that are still at an early stage of development, with the aim of stimulating discussion. One such policy area featuring at this weekend's conference in York is "Rural Communities" -- a subject that is very relevant to us here in Suffolk Coastal.

The consultation paper starts off with some background notes, pointing out that successive governments have focussed policy-making and public spending more on urban areas than on rural ones, and expressing a concern that the situation will worsen after Brexit because more than half of the £4.5 billion received in EU funding goes towards agriculture and rural business. An ageing population, a higher cost of living and lower average income, a lack of affordable housing, deficiency of both physical and digital infrastructure, lack of access to services... the challenges are many.

Some of the 33 separate questions posed in the consultation include:

  • "How should we measure rural deprivation?"
  • "Is there a way to better fund rural social care services, e.g. with local income/taxation/money-raising powers?"
  • "How can we make rural transport work for young people -- particularly those who struggle to access employment, education or training?"
  • "Energy inefficiency, fuel poverty and connected health problems can be a particular issue in rural areas. How best can this be tackled?"
  • "Do you see the future of rural towns and villages primarily as production and business centres in their own right, or as providers of housing, amenities and tourism centres for commuters and visitors?"
  • "Should the direct income support aspect of agricultural subsidies move to a system where they are purely transitional or capped?"
  • "What measures should government take to protect coastal and other low-lying land from flooding?"

You can download the consultation document from the members' area of the Liberal Democrats' website. Comments are invited as soon as possible, but no later than Friday 31st March 2017.

And don't forget that if you want to chat with other members on this topic (or any other), you are welcome to join us at one of our Lib Dem Pint evenings. Details can be found on the homepage of this site.

 

Source:

"Rural Communities: Consultation Paper 131", Spring Conference 2017 (also downloadable from the conference papers area of the Liberal Democrats' website)