New report highlights the state of rural services in England
A new report published this week has highlighted the state of rural services in England, showing basic mobile calls are not possible across main networks in a third of homes and residents are losing out as bus services are scrapped.
Rural England’s State of Rural Services 2018 report draws attention to the difficulties rural households face in accessing services such as broadband, public transport, libraries, healthcare, shops and young people's services. The State of Rural Services reports, the first published in 2016, are a response to concerns about gaps in the rural evidence base and aim to inform policy debate and help those making or delivering policies to take decisions which ultimately benefit rural communities.
This latest report highlights concerns that many of the National Association of Local Councils (NALC) 125,000 local councillors will share: that rural areas are being left behind and are increasingly dependent on voluntary activity at a local level.
Cllr Sue Baxter, chairman of NALC, said “The report identifies growing expectations that are being placed on communities and volunteers to sustain vital services within rural areas and, all too often, to stop them from disappearing. Local (parish and town) councils play an increasing role in the provision of libraries, youth clubs, transport schemes and supporting village shops and pubs. There is growing evidence this ultra-local model of community action can deliver service improvements and help maintain strong communities. However, some communities have fewer volunteers than others and there will be limits to volunteer capacity and capability.
"NALC’s 10,000 local councils play a key role in supporting and facilitating this community action through the management of services, grants, community hubs and publicising opportunities to residents. NALC believes local councils are well placed to do more and to support communities to help themselves. Our recent Points of Lights 2019 report showed example after example of local councils stepping up in these challenging times, which we are following up with further research into how local councils in rural areas are helping address some of the issues the State of Rural Services report highlights, due to be published in the Autumn".