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COUNCILS CALL FOR RURAL TASKFORCE

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The Rural Services Partnership, which represents 60 local authorities, will today call on the government to set up ...
The Rural Services Partnership, which represents 60 local authorities, will today call on the government to set up a rural taskforce to parallel the already-established body that deals with urban areas.

The Financial Times (p6) reports that the call follows widespread complaints in the countryside that the government favours towns and cities above rural communities.

Mike Capes, chairman of the partnership, said: 'We need a rural taskforce to provide a comprehensive assessment of the needs of hard-pressed country areas, in the same way as the urban taskforce recently did for the cities.'

Jon McLeod, campaign director, said: 'Rural poverty is often hidden and these types of fiscal advantages are as much required outside towns and cities as they are in them.'

He said there was 'a real policy disequilibrium between the way issues of urban areas are driven forward with this great over-arching approach and the lack of attention given to rural areas'.

The partnership is concerned that a behind-the-scenes government review of the way it funds councils poses a threat to fragile rural communities. It will publish today an evaluation of the options under review.

Mr Capes said: 'We have welcomed the government's review of the existing grant system of standing spending assessments, which has been criticised for being difficult to understand. But it is becoming clear that, in its drive to change the system, the government is leaving fairness behind. Rural deprivation is often hidden - but that does not mean the government should ignore it.'

see LGCnet 27/7/99 'FINANCE SHAKE-UP 'POSES MAJOR THREAT' TO RURAL COMMUNITIES'

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