We are part of The Rural Coalition which is made up of the 15 leading organisations which represent rural interests, who subscribe to a vision for a living and working countryside. We are calling on the Government to deliver on its Big Society vision by radically empowering local people to shape the rural places in which they live.
The Rural Challenge: Achieving Sustainable Rural Communities for the 21st Century, published in August 2010, outlines detailed proposals to give local people, entrepreneurs, community groups and councils the ability to bring about positive change that will ensure a thriving future for the countryside. This report is being billed as a blueprint for delivering the Big Society in the small places which are at huge risk unless action is taken now. The report sets out detailed propositions for taking on five key challenges facing the countryside – meeting rural housing need, building thriving economies, delivering good rural services, creating flourishing market towns and empowering local communities. We are committed to following up the messages of The Rural Challenge.
In most rural towns and villages, community has always been more important than the state. Our report is not about central direction, the technicalities of new development, or the necessary size of investment in public services. In fact it is not about top-down rules and targets at all.
To build the 'Big Society' in rural areas the greatest need is to answer the questions about how government at every level can empower rural communities – to manage and plan for business and residential growth in the countryside over time, to shape and take part in the delivery of services, and to meet the challenges of an age of austerity and climate change – in a way that is:
More sustainable - to meet the challenges of the environment, climate change and community
More attractive - to address concerns about unattractive, badly planned developments gobbling up the green fields around historic rural communities
More flexible - to tackle the diverse needs and the challenges of tailoring services to small rural communities spread across huge geographical areas
The Rural Coalition is calling for recognition of the national importance of the countryside and our rural communities, the Rural Coalition urging Government to address three core areas to support them: the rural economy, affordable housing, and health and social care services.
Read more on The Rural Challenge