on coaches and trains with others from their own local communities - they
should ask themselves what next?
Agency and rural advocate, said: 'It is vital that the broad concerns of
rural communities are not obscured by the hunting debate, and that their
concerns over affordable housing, the delivery of rural services and
transport are not lost in the noise of the march.
'To meet those concerns means work for rural communities themselves as well
as for policy makers. The challenge for rural people returning after the
countryside march will be to turn their energy and commitment into positive
action to build on the strength of their communities and help themselves.
By working with the Countryside Agency and others to identify local
priorities, people from rural communities can help revitalise their towns
and villages,' he said.
Why do country people feel rural life is eroding? Do they know what their
community needs to thrive in the future? If not, a parish or town plan
could help them have a greater say in their own affairs and the future of
their town or village.
If they do know what they need, grants are available to help improve or
introduce new services from child care schemes to help for a village shop.
Or if their community is isolated, they could get support for small scale
projects such as moped pools, taxi buses and minibus brokerage schemes.
More than£14m has already been invested through the agency's vital
villages initiative in grants for plans and services since Margaret Beckett
launched it 15 months ago to help rural communities throughout England. If
local people can get together and raise say£2,500 to kickstart a project
to help their community, the Countryside Agency can offer a range of advice
and turn it into a£10,000 investment.
Mr Cameron continued: 'The Rural White Paper was a real step forward and
much has already been achieved. The challenge for Government now is to
ensure continuing rapid progress against the remaining policy commitments.
In particular, the flexibility to respond to new circumstances is the best
way to demonstrate its commitment to the countryside.'
1. The public can find out more about grants for parish and town plans,
community services, parish transport and rural transport partnerships by
getting an application pack, including guidance and sources of additional
help and advice, from our vital villages call centre on 0870 333 0170 or
check out the Countryside Agency website. Case studies available.
2. The Countryside Agency is responsible for advising government and taking
action on issues relating to the social, economic and environmental
well-being of the English countryside.
3. The Rural White Paper, Our Countryside: the Future, was published in
November 2000.DEFRA maintains and updates an implementation plan for the
policy commitments made in the rural white paper, which can be viewed on