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'RURAL COMMUNITIES MUST NOT MISS OUT IN REGIONAL GOVERNMENT PLANS'

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Plans for regional government, due to be published by the DTLR tommorrow, must not be allowed to marginalise Englan...
Plans for regional government, due to be published by the DTLR tommorrow, must not be allowed to marginalise England's rural communities, ministers are to be warned.

A coalition representing England's 57 most sparsely populated rural local authorities, said that further changes to the structure of local government could adversely affect the provision of public services in country communities.

Commenting in advance of an expected white paper, which may propose the abolition of county councils in those regions which adopt directly elected regional assemblies, Cllr Steven Pugsley, chairman of the Rural Services Partnership, said:

'Public services in the countryside have been historically underfunded because of successive governments' failure to recognise the extra cost of providing them to rural communities.

'Our rural local authorities support parts of the country, which are still fragile after the shock of foot and mouth. More tinkering with local government structures may be a luxury we simple cannot afford.

'Abolishing county councils, which have a long track record of serving rural communities, could also prove a retrograde step.

'We also have real concerns that any regional tier of government will be urban-centric and will be too remote from our most far-flung country communities.

'We will be raising these issues with ministers, and mounting a forceful lobby on the needs of rural communities in parliament.'

Notes

The 57 most sparsely populated rural local authorities in the Rural Services Partnership are:

Allerdale

Alnwick

Babergh

Breckland

Bridgnorth

Chichester

Copeland

Craven

Cumbria CC

Daventry

Derbyshire Dales

Devon CC

East Cambridgeshire

East Lindsey

East Northamptonshire

East Riding of Yorkshire

Eden

Fenland

Hambleton

Kennet

King's Lynn & West Norfolk

Lincolnshire CC

Malvern Hills

Melton

Mid Devon

Mid Suffolk

Newark and Sherwood

Norfolk CC

North Cornwall

North Norfolk

North Shropshire

North Wiltshire

North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue

Restormel

Ribble Valley

Richmondshire

Rutland

Ryedale

Scarborough

Shrewsbury & Atcham

South Hams

South Holland

South Lakeland

South Norfolk

South Northamptonshire

South Shropshire

Suffolk Coastal

Stratford-on-Avon

Teesdale

Torridge

Tynedale

Uttlesford

Wear Valley

West Devon

West Dorset

West Lindsey

West Somerset

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