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Strengthened roles for town and parish councils, boosting their …

Strengthened roles for town and parish councils, boosting their
powers to meet the needs of their local community, were outlined
today by environment minister Michael Meacher.
From April a new,£5m Parish Plan Fund will help 1,000 rural
communities over the next three years to prepare their own town or
village plan, giving them a say in how their villages and towns are
run. People will have greater power to guide and influence the future
development of their own villages and towns, by identifying needs for
key facilities and services. The£5m programme will be
administered by the Countryside Agency.
Plans will identify not only how best to develop but also how to
safeguard, vital local services such as shops and leisure facilities.
This will also help people influence other essential local issues
including housing, transport and health.
The Rural White Paper, published in November, set out plans to
strengthen town and parish councils as the voice of their
communities. Today’s announcement helps implement this. Additional
funding totalling£2m will support a training and support
scheme and a national training strategy is being prepared, to take
effect from September of this year.
Speaking at the National Association of Local Councils seminar in
Northampton today Michael Meacher said:
‘The Rural White Paper will help improve the quality of life and
increase opportunities for rural communities. It recognises the basic
fact that people need the opportunity and power to develop local
solutions to their local problems.
‘Working for a thriving rural community should be high on everyone’s
agenda. The current foot and mouth emergency underlines just how
important this is.’
1. The Rural White Paper ‘A Fair Deal for England’ was published on
28 November 2000. It is available on the DETR website.
2. The steering group which will develop the national strategy will
be chaired by the Countryside Agency and include representatives
from NALC, LGA, IdeA, DETR and the Society of Local Council Clerks.
A detailed timetable for making additional sources of help available
so that rural communities can restore services and build a broader
economic base was published today by environment minister Michael
Meacher and MAFF minister Elliot Morley. The Rural White Paper
Implementation Plan sets out how the government and its partners will
help rural communities develop high quality services and boost the
local economy.
Key elements of the package include:
- a£15m Community Service Fund, being launched today, which
will help to safeguard or re-establish basic village facilities -
such as shops and local core services using community buildings,
including churches and parish halls; the government expects to
finance schemes in 2,500 small rural settlements through Countryside
Agency grants;
- a decision to introduce legislation, as soon as parliamentary time
allows, to extend the mandatory rate relief scheme for village shops
to certain other small food shops, pubs and petrol filling stations;
- decision to introduce legislation, as soon as parliamentary time
allows, to put in place a scheme giving rate relief for new farm
diversification enterprises, which will grant 50% relief for an
initial period of five years to all new small businesses established on
property previously subject to the agricultural exemption from rates;
- a Market Town regeneration programme (£100m with partners), to be
launched by the regional development agencies next month benefiting
20 towns in 2001/2 and a further 80 towns over the next three years;
- a Housing Corporation programme announced today to increase the
number of affordable homes in rural settlements from 800 to 1100 next
year - which together with increased local a uthority programmes and
strengthened use of planning powers is expected to achieve 3000
additional affordable homes each year in rural areas by 2003/4;
- a£15m Parish Transport Fund, offering grants over three
years for small-scale, locally generated transport solutions - there
will be allocations of up to£10,000 for social car, taxi and
community schemes, benefiting 1000 small towns and villages a year by
2003 and enabling rural communities to choose the transport they need
- it complements the Rural Bus Subsidy Grant of£132m over three
years and the£60m Rural Bus Challenge;
- the Rural Service Standard, setting out for the first time what
rural people can expect including access standards from a wide range
of public services, including post offices, schools, health centres
and emergency services;
- a strengthened role for parish and town councils, enabling them to
deliver more services locally - a new£5m fund also being launched
today will help parishes to prepare Village and Town Plans. A Quality
Parish consultation paper will be published shortly to seek views on
creating high performing councils by introducing quality standards;
- setting up national and regional stakeholder boards so as to
involve countryside organisations in helping to shape and implement
the programme and strengthening the rural voice at every level.
Overall rural communities will benefit from an additional£1bn of
expenditure on rural programmes as a result of decisions in the
Comprehensive Spending Review 2000, as set out in the Rural White
Already in the last month, rural areas have benefited from a£5m dedicated neighbourhood warden scheme, tackling crime and the
fear of crime. To improve services and encourage greater bus use in
rural areas, deputy prime minister John Prescott last week announced
allocations to local authorities of£197m in Rural Bus Subsidy and
Rura l Bus Challenge over the next three years, an increase of 42% on the
previous three years. Consultation on extending business rate exemptions
to farm buildings used for innovative farming was also launched last
week - helping farmers to become more competitive and play their role
in revitalising the wider rural economy.
Mr Meacher said:
‘Rural communities face severe additional hardships and pressures at
present and this is a first step in responding to their needs, and
reversing the previous decline in rural services. This programme
delivers what people in the countryside most need - new transport
provision , more affordable homes, assured access to better public
services, help for farm diversification and increased
agri-environment schemes, with regenerated market towns as the hub of
a more broadly based local economy and empowered parish councils who
can better deliver what people in small towns and villages really
want. This is not an election sweetener - it is the product of
lengthy consultation with rural people, whose input helped to shape
the Rural White Paper. These are the essential commitments which
rural communities have asked for.’
Elliot Morley said:
‘No one in the town or country can fail to be aware of the very deep
crisis facing the farming industry today. It is on everyone’s minds,
but we must also look at the future of the countryside beyond this
immediate crisis. We must set out our longer term plans for the whole
of the countryside and show how we intend to implement our
This note sets out action on implementation and delivery of some of
the main measures in the Rural White Paper (RWP) published on 28
November 2000. It does not cover every item in the paper and further
details are available in the full table on the Department’s web site.
Brief details of how to apply for the main new funds and ‘who does
what’ are set out in the Annex.
- To support shops and re-establish basic Village Services a new
Countryside Agency grant scheme will start in April; legislative
proposals will be introduced when Parliamentary time allows to extend
mandatory rate relief scheme for village shops to certain small food
shops, pubs and petrol filling stations;
- To increase access to Affordable Housing the Housing Corporation
programme for small settlements will increase from 800 to 1100 units
next year rising to 1600 by 2003/4;
- To tackle exclusion and improve services in rural communities we
are setting new service standards and increasing provision such as
additional childcare, introducing further rural Sure Start schemes
and asking Police Forces to set out how the additional resources set
out in the White Paper will increase police visibility and
accessibility in rural areas;
- To improve Rural Transport, increased Rural Bus Subsidy Grant will
provide more new services to market towns from April 2001 and local
authorities now have flexibility to use 20% of grant to support
existing services. From April 2001 a new Countryside Agency grant
scheme offers up to£10,000 available directly to Parish and Town
Councils to support community schemes such as car sharing;
- In March the Regional Development Agencies (RDAs) will launch the
Market Town regeneration programme benefiting 20 towns in 2001/2 and
a further 80 over the next 3 years;
- The expanded range of schemes under the England Rural Development
Programme (£1.6Bn over 7 years) is expected to have helped around
30,000 people, by end 2001, mainly in farming and forestry, with
grants for countryside stewardship, organic conversion, woodland
planting, hill farming and rural development. By March 2001 some 5000
farmers will have had free consultancy advice from the Farm Business
Advisory Service (£21m over 3 years) as part of the Government’s


Action Plan for Farming to help the farming industry modernise,
restructure and diversify. Additional measures to help farmers meet
the current economic crisis and adapt to longer term pressures are
set out in the Plan, supported by£300m over the next 3 years.
- Changes to planning guidance (PPG7 - the Countryside will be
published in March, to be supported by a new PPG13, to give stronger
support to farm diversification projects, which will also benefit
from legislative proposals (to be introduced as soon as Parliamentary
time allows), which would allow 50% rate relief for 5 years to new
small businesses on property previously subject to the agricultural
exemption. By April 2002, 1000 farm businesses will have had RDA
grants to support redundant building conversion as part of a
diversification project;
- Parish and Town Councils In addition to new grant schemes for
transport and community services, new funds, from April 2001 will
help parishes prepare Village and Town Plans and extend and improve
training for Parish Councils. Working with local government - LGA and
NALC - we will issue the Quality Parish proposals for consultation in
late spring.
Our approach
1. The policies and measures set out in the Rural White Paper are
intended to deliver an improved quality of life for everyone who
lives in the countryside, but taking forward these measures will
depend critically on 5 factors:
- Achieving integration with other policies, but particularly
policies for urban regeneration and working to get better working
relationships between town and country - on farming, the environment,
transport and development and the Government will be looking for
opportunities to develop this as we implement the White Paper;
- Reflecting varying regional and local priorities. For example
shortage of affordable housing and the need for economic regeneration
will score differently within and between regions. The Rural White
Paper promotes local choice and its toolkit of measures requires
active local selection and initiative;
- Involving countryside organisations in developing and delivery
policies. Development of many White Paper policies will continue to
benefit from input from specialist organisations and rural community
representatives to help share and learn from experience, to spread
good practice, and to help agree local and regional priorities for
action and we will promote this wherever practicable. We are
establishing National and Regional Sounding Boards to give rural
communities a stronger voice to Government and oversight of service
- Working in partnership with Regional and Local Government The
success of the White Paper policies depends on effective partnerships
with all tiers of local and regional government, as well as national
agencies. Building such partnerships, for example through local
Strategic Partnerships or in County and District Parish Charters is a
key part of implementation;
- Establishing independent monitoring. The White Paper commits both
to a wider set of indicators on the quality of life in rural areas
and independent monitoring by the Countryside Agency with the
oversight of the National and Regional Sounding Boards, and the Rural
Advocate. New indicators are included in the White Paper to enable
the quality of life and environment in rural areas to be better
We will look to follow these principles as we implement each of the
policies in the White Paper and work with stakeholders to build a
shared approach and a strong rural voice.
Rural Service Standard (RWP Chapter 2)
2. In the Rural White Paper, we are setting out for the first time
what rural people can expect from major service providers in the
Rural Services Standard and how those services will improve. Action
The Countryside Agency in its annual survey and Service Providers are
taking step s to improve monitoring of rural service delivery and that
will inform the Annual review of the service standard by the Cabinet
Committee on Rural Affairs, together with advice from the Rural
Advocate, Ewen Cameron, and the views of the National and Regional
Sounding Boards of rural stakeholders. The Department will issue a
Best Practice Guide for service providers on taking account of rural
needs/costs in Summer 2001.
Vital Village Services (RWP Chapter 3)
3. We are helping rural communities to have the basic services they
need - shops, health and education close at hand, through community
enterprise, applying new technology and public service providers
retaining and improving essential services through:
3.1. Extending the village shop rate relief scheme to provide
mandatory relief for certain food shops, pubs and garages in small
rural settlements. Action Legislative proposals, as soon as
Parliamentary time allows, to give mandatory relief of up to 50%.
3.2. Introducing a new£15m Community Service Fund to help safeguard
or re-establish community backed basic services in small settlements;
Action Scheme launched 1 March 2001 by Countryside Agency
(applications to its regional offices from 1.4.2001) to deliver 2500
small rural community projects over the next 3 years.
3.3. Maintaining the rural Post Office network. Action New£2m fund
announced by DTI (February) to support relocation, refurbishment and
community involvement in rural post offices. New Post Office Code of
Practice setting out action to help maintain rural post office
network for publication by Spring 2001.
3.4. Making new services available at village post offices including
banking. Action New services, including Internet Access, to be
piloted at 280 rural post offices in Leicestershire from July 2001.
Agreement in principle (on 20.12.2000) to enable rural Post Offices
to offer to provide a Universal Bank service by April 200 3.
3.5. Reducing the rate of VAT on repairs and maintenance for listed
churches - subject to EC approval. Action The Chancellor wrote to the
European Commission in November. Further announcement Spring 2001.
3.6. Increasing funding for rural schools and access to internet for
all rural schools by 2002. Action£80m Small Schools Fund in 2000-01
to help share resources, provide administrative support and adopt new
technologies. Expansion of Community Schools self help network to
4000 schools in 2001/2.
3.7. New childcare and early education provision in rural
communities. Action For example 4,500 new childcare places in Devon,
Cornwall, Durham, Lincolnshire in first 9 months of 2000/1.
Modern Rural Services (RWP Chapter 4).
4. We are using new technology to improve public services, including
lifelong learning, skills, job search and health and tackling rural
deprivation and social exclusion through:
4.1. Modernising family doctor facilities which will improve access
to services for most people in rural areas. Action - The NHS will
work up programmes to achieve up to 100 new primary care one-stop
shops or mobile service delivery units in rural areas by 2004.
4.2. More resources to give more rapid rural ambulance response.
Action - Of the 32 ambulance trusts in England, 7 are currently
meeting the new target for the most urgent, life-threatening cases
and 18 others are expected to do so by April this year. All are
expected to do so by April 2002.
4.3. Rural communities will also benefit from wider Health and Social
Services investment. Action Extension of NHS Direct to pharmacy
services in 2002, expansion of new hospital programme and NHS
dentistry and increase in intermediate care beds (On 15 February a
new circular was issued to Health Authorities requiring them to
consider what changes will be needed to make their contribution to
the NHS Plan objective of a 7,000 hospital bed increase by 2004. Of
these 5,000 beds will be intermediate care beds, many in local
facilities such as community and cottage hospitals, new purpose built
facilities or redesigned nursing homes.
4.4. Helping 16-18s to stay in education and supporting lifelong
learning. Action - Connexions Card to be launched Autumn 2001 will
benefit rural areas by giving all young people in education (16-19)
discounts including travel costs. Education Maintenance Allowances
being tested in 4 rural areas. Local Learning Partnerships
identifying specific rural needs and solutions.
4.5. More resources for tackling social exclusion in the most
deprived rural areas. Action Sure Start Pilot programmes in 7 rural
districts begin April 2001 to improve early education (under 4),
health and family support for the most disadvantaged households.
Further programmes to begin in October 2001 with invitation to rural
districts to develop rural sure start model. Additional funding for
the most deprived rural areas of£25m from Neighbourhood Renewal Fund
(£3m in 2001/2 rising to£12m in 2003/4) and capacity building
through Neighbourhood Management projects. Appointment of 40
Community Development workers by the Countryside Agency to help rural
communities tackle problems themselves.
4.6. More resources for rural policing - an extra£15m in 2000-01 and
£30m in 2001-02. Annual Action Police Force Annual Policing and Best
Value Performance Plans (to be published by end March 2001) will
report how additional recourse are used to improve police visibility
and accessibility in rural areas.
Housing (RWP Chapter 5)
5. We are increasing the proportion of affordable housing, both for
rent and sale, provided in market towns and villages, in order to
support a living, working countryside with inclusive rural
communities through:
5.1. Doubling funding for the Housing Corporation between 2000 and
2003 to benefit both rural and urban areas and doubling its programme
in small rural settlements from 800 to 1,600 homes a year. Action
Approvals in small settlements in 2001 expected to be 1100, rising to
1600 in 2003/4. In addition local authority funding and planning
agreements should deliver annually around 1500 affordable homes to
small rural settlements and around 6000 affordable homes in rural
5.2. Council tax on second homes. Action Consultation paper (Spring
2001) on whether to give local authorities discretion to end 50%
discount and whether the additional income should be retained
5.3. Promoting better use of the planning system to secure more
affordable homes as part of mixed developments in market towns and
rural areas. Action Guidance to local authorities on better use of
planning powers in late 2001. Countryside Agency extending the
Housing Enabler scheme (bringing together land, funding and
purchasers) to 25 counties by 2002.
5.4. Starter homes initiative. Action Rural area projects in first
round to be announced June 2001.
Transport (RWP Chapter 6)
6. We are improving transport and road safety for all in rural areas
making best use of car, bus, rail, and community transport, with more
responsive, better co-ordinated and locally provided services
6.1. Additional rural bus services with increased funding:£132m over
three years for Rural Bus Subsidy Grant and£60m over the same period
for Rural Bus Challenge (45% increase on 1998-01). Action
Allocationsannounced February allow increased flexibility to
authorities to support existing services and services in and around
larger market towns (10-25,000 population). Will contribute
significantly to increasing number of rural households within a 10
minute walk of frequent bus service (hourly or better) (currently 36%
and expected to be 48% in 2010).
6.2. A new Parish Transport fund of£15m over three years to suppor t
small-scale, locally generated transport solutions. Action To be
launched in March with grants of up to£10,000 for social car, taxi
and community schemes, expected to benefit up to 1500 rural
communities in the first 3 years.
6.3. Relaxing regulatory restrictions on rural bus and community
transport services to allow more responsive and flexible provision in
areas not well served by scheduled services and by extending Fuel
Duty Rebate to Community Transport. Action Consultation on more
flexible routeing of scheduled services by Spring 2001 and on the
regulatory regime for community transport by summer 2001. Draft
proposals to extend Fuel Duty Rebate to community transport for
consultation in March 2001 with regulations made in 2001.
6.4. New funding for car sharing schemes, car clubs and other
innovative approaches such as brokerage schemes to make better use of
local authority transport in rural communities. Action We expect to
achieve 500 Rural Transport Partnership schemes nationally by
doubling funding to£12m p.a. over next 3 years, with maximum grants
increasing to£250,000.
6.5. Rail Passenger Partnerships. Action - Rural projects will
benefit from new fast track bidding for Rail Passenger Partnership
small projects (Strategic Rail Authority) eg. recent Tamar Valley
line (Devon/Cornwall) stations upgrade (£75k).
6.6. Making rural roads safer - through reduced vehicle speeds and
appropriate speed limits, more investment in traffic calming,
increased use of speed cameras and some 50 rural bypasses. Action
Report on rural road speed limit/safety hierarchy to be published by
end November 2001; simplified block approval process for speed limit
to be introduced in Transport Safety Bill; invitation to bid for new
funding from fine revenue for speed limit cameras from summer 2001.
Regenerating market towns (RWP Chapter 7)
7. Building a diverse rural economy that encourages new businesses
which fit with their surroundings and provide opportunities for all
particularly in deprived rural areas.
7.1. Providing advice and a healthcheck for all market towns and
increased funding (£37m to create a£100m programme with partners)
for Market Town regeneration in deprived areas. Action Regional
Development Agencies to announce Market Towns programme in each
region in March towns focusing on deprived rural areas, benefiting
around 20 towns in 2001/2 and a further 80 over the next 3 years;
Countryside Agency to promote national beacon towns network and best
practice programme from April 2001.
7.2. New rural vision for Regional Development Agencies to realise
potential of rural economy and help it adapt to declining industries.
Action Funding increase for RDAs from April 2001 with increased
flexibility for each RDA to set its own priorities under ‘single
budget’ regime by end 2001;
7.3. Extending ICT access and use in rural areas. Action UK online:
The Broadband Future, Published February 2001, includes Government
commitment to include rural needs in strategy to extend broadband
(high capacity telecommunications). Consultation on a scoping study
on MAFF Rural Portal completed, launch of a prototype expected in
2001 and a fully interactive site in 2002.
7.4. Lower transport costs for business and farmers. Action Reduced
VED for road haulage and farm vehicles in Pre Budget Report.
A new future for farming (RWP Chapter 8)
8. Working in partnership to provide opportunities to help the
agriculture industry modernise and become more competitive, diverse,
sustainable and responsive to consumers, recognising the role which
farmers and land managers play in maintaining an attractive and
diverse countryside and in sustaining the wider rural economy.
8.1. The Action Plan for Farming aims to foster a more competitive
and sustainable industry by providing short term relief to th e
sectors hit hardest by the current crisis and longer term support to
encourage industry restructuring and adaptation. Originally backed
by£200 million, a further£300 million has been awarded to take
forward key initiatives over the next 3 years, including the pig
industry restructuring scheme and further support for hill farmers
(both UK wide), the free Farm Business Advice Scheme, the Farm Waste
Grant Scheme, marketing support, development of the rural portal and
the National Scrapie Plan, which will deliver benefits in the
longer-term. Full details of the initiatives in the Action Plan are
found on Action Fulfilling the Action Plan is a MAFF
Public Service Agreement commitment and MAFF will monitor and
evaluate its implementation.
8.2. Tailored business advice and training for farmers. Action£21m
of free advice until 2004 benefiting around 15,000 farmers - 1300
visits by end December 2000, total of 5000 expected by end March
2001. Lantra has received£1.8m to assess training needs - 10,000
skill check assessments by end March.
8.3. Help for small abattoirs to support the rural economy and
specialist markets. Action FSA consulting on legislation needed to
enable£8.7m to be spent from April 2001 on supporting a new meat
inspection charging system.
8.4. The launch of the£1.6bn, 7 year England Rural Development
Programme (ERDP) which increases support for agri-environment schemes
and woodlands (see 10.1) and introduces new grants for marketing,
skills, rural enterprise and energy crops. Action New schemes open
for application, expected by end 2001 to assist over 300 farming or
rural businesses and provide over 4000 training days for people in
farming and forestry.
8.5. More support for farm business diversification. Action Issue a
planning policy statement updating PPG7 (The Countryside) to
encourage good quality farm diversification projects (March 2001 )
supported by a revised PPG13 (transport) and legislative proposals
for rate relief for new small businesses on agricultural property
announced February 2001. Continued RDA Redundant Building Grant
support in 2001/2 (£4m) converting buildings for new uses on 1000
farms by April 2002. New free manual on farm diversification by April
8.6. Regulating only when really necessary and removing unnecessary
regulatory burdens. Action Response to the BRTF report published on 7
Feb 2001 agreeing to review the scope for data sharing and
co-ordinated farm inspections so as to reduce burdens to farmers and
to publish proposals on this by Autumn 2001. Also government to
consider with others development of an environmental protection
standard providing reassurance to regulators and reduced need for
inspections on participating farms.
Preserve what makes rural England special (RWP Chapter 9)
9. Reducing pressures for greenfield development through more
successful cities and making the best use of recycled land and a
planning framework which continues to safeguard our countryside while
allowing rural communities to thrive.
9.1. Tackling further greenfield development through urban
renaissance and stronger controls on building on greenfield sites.
Action Implementation of the Urban White Paper (see separate plan).
Continued monitoring of the 60% brownfield target and notification of
all major new greenfield housing development. Revised consultation
draft of PPG25 on flood protection issued February 2001.
Consultation on impact fees and planning gain by summer 2001.
9.2. A more holistic approach to take better account of all land
characteristics in planning decisions. Action Parliamentary statement
and consolidated PPG7 - March 2001 followed by new best practice
planning guidance on assessing Best and Most Versatile Land (Autumn
2001). Draft soil strategy for consultation March 2001.
9.3. Consultation o n applying environmental impact assessment
procedures to projects for making more intense agricultural use of
uncultivated land. Action Consultation on draft regulations to be
issued early Summer 2001.
9.4. Better protection for National Parks, AONBs and other important
landscapes. Action Complete consultation on commons legislation by
Summer 2001. Consultation on national ambient noise strategy, taking
account of rural tranquillity, by April 2001. Management Plans to be
in place for all AONBs by 31 March 2004.
9.5. More sustainable water management linking urban and rural land
use and an approach which safeguards environmental capital. Action
Government considering proposal for statutory duty on Director
General of OFWAT to have regard to sustainable development arising
from consultation on draft Water Bill.
Restoring and Maintaining wildlife diversity (RWP Chapter 10)
10. We are creating a new policy framework for promoting
biodiversity, restoring threatened habitats such as lowland heath and
tackling wildlife threats, recognising and rewarding farmers for the
environmental benefits they can provide.
10.1. Government targets to reverse the decline in farmland birds by
2020 and to bring 95% of nationally important wildlife sites into
favourable condition by 2010. Doubling the number of new Countryside
Stewardship Scheme agreements under the ERDP to enhance wildlife and
landscape. Action Expansion of agri-environment schemes under ERDP
expected to achieve agreements with 10,000 farmers under Countryside
10.2. New planning guidance on nature conservation and biodiversity
to ensure that they are better taken into account in local decisions.
Action Draft PPG9 for consultation in Summer 2001.
10.3. A new biodiversity strategy for England to carry forward the
action plans which have already been developed for species and
habitats identified as particular priorities. Action Consultation


with stakeholders in summer 2001. Final strategy summer 2002.
10.4. Tougher penalties for wildlife crime. Action Increased fines in
effect from 30 January 2001 under CROW Act. National Wildlife Crime
Unit to be established by end 2001.
Ensuring everyone can enjoy an accessible countryside (RWP Chapter
11. A new right of access for walkers by 2005 to mountain, moor,
heath, down and registered common land. Action Countryside Agency has
begun mapping the land to which the right will apply (around 4m acres
of countryside - 10% of land area of England and Wales) and expect to
produce first draft maps around October 2001 beginning in North West
and South East.
11.1. The rights of way system brought up to date through the new
legislative measures in the Countryside and Rights of Way Act and new
finance from central Government. Action Increased fines for
obstruction of footpaths from 30 January. Draft regulation for
consultation by Autumn 2001.
11.2. Codes of practice, a national access database and other readily
available sources to inform people of the opportunities available to
them in the countryside. Action Using Countryside Agency survey and
Best Value review to help achieve 10% improvement in defining,
maintaining and publicising Rights of Way network by 2005.
11.3. Better urban-rural links including new guidance on revitalising
country parks and special funding to improve the countryside around
towns. Action Countryside Agency to launch national demonstration
programme for better design and management of ‘public realm’ with
health check and action programme for country parks in Autumn 2001.
New grant scheme to expand Community Forest programme by July 2001.
Local power for country towns and villages (RWP Chapter 12)
12. Helping all tiers of local government improve services in rural
areas, enabling Town and Parish councils develop a new role and
enable communities to help shape their future.
12.1. The quality parish - a new role for town and parish councils.
Town and Parish councils working in partnership with counties and
districts and others to deliver more services locally, where this is
best value, including Community Information Points. Action Working
with local government-NALC and LGA- to develop Consultation Paper on
Quality Parishes for publication late Spring 2001, including model
Parish Charter, Quality Tests and proposals on Parishes and Best
12.2. Help for over 1,000 rural communities to prepare Town and
Village Plans to shape their future. Action Parish Plans grant scheme
to be launched on 1 March by Countryside Agency (applications to its
regional offices from 1.4.2001).
12.3. Training and support for parish councils. Action Joint training
strategy being developed with NALC, LGA and IDeA by Countryside
Agency with£2m support for additional parish training.
Think rural (RWP Chapter 13)
13. We want to ensure that rural needs are taken into account in
developing all major policies and we want to give rural people a
voice at the heart of Government, and in monitoring services and
advising on countryside issues. Action First meeting of Rural Affairs
Cabinet Committee with Rural Advocate - March 2001. Development of
rural proofing checklist (March 2001) and first rural proofing report
(February 2002). National and Regional Rural Sounding Boards
established by Summer 2001.
Monitoring (RWP Chapter 14)
14. Putting in place the monitoring of systems and indicators to
measure progress towards White Paper objectives. Action Expansion of
national regional State of Countryside report assessments by April
2002. Review of indicators and report findings by Sounding Boards.
Contacts for main grant schemes listed. CA/RDA/MAFF.
Contacts for further information ab out schemes and how to apply
(Organisations with Regional Offices cover the same areas as
Government Offices of the Regions - see map at end)
Community Service Fund. This will provide small grants to communities
or individual service providers to establish or improve local
services in rural areas. It will help innovative projects such as
putting a Internet link in the local pub or church, as well as
established improvements to village shops to make them viable.*
Parish Transport Fund. This will offer grants of up to£10,000 for
very local solutions developed by parish and town councils. Options
could range from provision of taxi vouchers, community transport (e.
g. a minibus) to extending an existing bus service or improving
pedestrian access.*
Parish Plans Grant Scheme. This will help rural communities prepare
their own town or village plan - a comprehensive statement of the
community’s needs and priorities, based on a local survey of
Rural Transport Partnership Fund. Rural Transport Partnerships are
designed to bring together local community interests to develop new
ideas for transport in co- operation with local authorities. Bids to
support pilot car clubs will be specifically invited.
Contact: Countryside Agency, Regional Offices:
* Full details of these schemes will not be available until after
April. Meanwhile please contact the Countryside Agency’s call centre
on 0870 330170.

North East
Cross House
Westgate Road
Newcastle Upon Tyne
Tel: 0191 2691600
Yorkshire and the Humber
4th Floor
Victoria Wharf
No 4 The Embankment
Sovereign Street
Tel: 0113 246 9222
North West (Cheshire and
South Lancashire)
7th Floor
Bridgewater House
Whitworth Street
M1 6LT
Tel 0161 237 1061
North West (Cumbria and
North Lancashire)
Haweswater Road
CA11 7EH
Tel 0176 8 865752

West Midlands
Strickland House
The Lawns
Park Street
Tel: 01952 247161
West Midlands
Strickland House
The Lawns
Park Street
Tel: 01952 247161
South West (Cornwall,
Devon and Somerset)
2nd Floor
11-15 Dix’s Field
Tel: 01392 477150
South West Gloucestershire,
Wiltshire, Dorset, Avon &
Bridge House
Sion Place
Clifton Down
Tel: 0117 973 9966
South East
Sterling House
7 Ashford Road
ME14 5BJ
Tel: 01622 765222
East Midlands
Regional Office 18
Market Place
NG13 8AP
Tel: 01949 876200
East of England
Ortona House
110 Hills Road
Tel: 01223 354462
Market Towns Programme. This regeneration programme will help create
new job opportunities, new workspace, restored high streets, improved
amenities and transport facilities and help with community needs.
Redundant Buildings Grant. A grant to encourage private owners and
small businesses (including farmers) to bring back into productive
commercial use buildings which are lying idle or which are becoming
redundant for their current use.
Contact: Regional Development Agencies:
One NorthEast
Great North House
Sandyford Road
Newcastle Upon Tyne
Tel: 0191 261 2000
Fax: 0191 201 2021
East Midlands Development
Apex Court
City Link
Tel: 0115 988 8300
North West Development
PO Box 37
Kings Court
Scotland Road
Tel: 01925 400 100
Fax: 01925 400 400
East of England Development
Compass House
Chivers Way
Tel: 01223 713 900
Fax: 01223 713 940
Yorkshire Forward
Victoria House
2 Victoria Place
LS11 5AE
Tel: 0113 243 9222
Fax: 0113 243 1088
South West of England
Regional Development Agency
Sterling House
Dix’s Field
Tel: 01392 214 747
Fax: 01392 214 848
Advantage West Midlands
2 Priestly Wharf
Holt Street
Aston Science Parke
B7 4BZ
Tel: 0121 380 3500
Fax: 0121 380 3501
South East of England
Development Agency
SEEDA Headquarters
Cross Lanes
Tel: 01483 484 226
Fax: 01483 484 247
England Rural Development Programme. Encompasses existing schemes
like Environmentally Sensitive Areas, Countryside Stewardship,
Organic Farming and Farm Woodlands, as well as the new Rural
Enterprise, Energy Crops, Processing and Marketing, and Vocational
Training schemes
Contact: MAFF - Rural Development Service (RDS) From April 2001
South East
Government Buildings
Coley Park
Tel: 0118 939 2256
North East
Government Buildings
Kenton Bar
Tel: 0191 286 3377

East Midlands
Block 7
Government Buildings
Chalfont Drive
Tel: 0115 929 1191
North West
Electra Way
Crewe Business Park
Tel: 01270 754000
West Midlands
Block C
Government Buildings
Whittington Road
Enquiries: 01905 763355
Yorkshire and The Humber
Government Buildings
Otley Road
LS16 5QT
Tel: 0113 261 3333
Eastern Region
Block B
Government Buildings
Brooklands Avenue
Tel: 01223 462727
South West
Block 3
Government Buildings
Burghill Road
BS10 6NJ Tel: 0117-959 1000(Until 31 March 2001 contact points are
MAFF Regional Service Centres)
Farm Business Advice Scheme
Local Business Link via National Phone Line: 08457 567 765

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