real voice and cut out bureaucracy, rural affairs minister Alun
Michael explained at the second meeting of the Rural Affairs Forum
for England today.
The proposed new groups will play a key role in shaping the future of
the countryside and ensuring that rural issues remain at the top of
the government's agenda.
One of the sub-groups - Rural Tourism - will build on the work of the
existing 'Your Countryside You're Welcome' campaign by monitoring the
implementation of the joint English Tourism Council and Countryside
Agency rural tourism strategy. Another sub-group will examine the
interdependence of rural and urban communities.
Two existing groups will be invited to feed into the Forum: the
Children and Young People's Forum and the National Countryside Access
Other proposed new sub-groups include:
- Business and Rural Enterprise
- Improving the rural evidence base
- Developing community leadership
- Woodlands in rural communities and economies
Mr Michael said:
'It was clear from our first meeting that the forum has an enormous
field of potential work - much of this can be done more effectively
in sub-groups. They will follow the successful approach of the 'Your
Countryside You're Welcome' campaign, which has proved an effective
partnership to promote rural and to bridge the perceived urban-rural
divide. The regional forums we have established will also make an
important contribution to our work.'
The sub-groups will include both members of the forum and co-opted
external members. Each group will be expected to report to the full
forum within six months.
The forum agreed to hold a Countryside Conference later in the year,
when issues such as 'urban-rural interdependence' and the 'value of
the countryside as a national resource' will be discussed.
Today's meeting also considered the policy commission report on the
future of Food and Farming and the Countryside Agency's report -
which will be published tomorrow - on rural proofing.
1. The Rural Affairs Forum will:
- Identify issues of concern to rural people and businesses and offer
ideas and suggestions;
- Give views on new proposals affecting rural areas;
- Give views on further policy development needed to implement the
Rural White Paper and its objectives;
- Review service delivery to rural areas;
- Review the implementation of the Rural White Paper and key rural
- Follow up to the work of the Rural Task Force and its final report.
2. Forum membership will be made up of individuals nominated by the
following non-Governmental organisations:
Association of National Park Authorities
Council for the Protection of Rural England
Royal Society for the Protection of Animals
British Horse Society
Country Land and Business Association
British Chambers of Commerce
National Farmers Union
Trades Union Congress
The Co-operative Union
Churches Together in England
National Federation of Women's Institutes
National Youth Agency
Age Concern England
Local Government Association
National Association of Local Councils
The eight regional rural affairs forums
Action with Communities in Rural England
Royal Society for the Protection of Cruelty to Animals
National Council for Voluntary Organisations
East of England Development Agency (lead rural RDA)
- Other government departments, agencies and non-departmental public
bodies will have an interest in the work of the forum. They will be
invited to attend and participate fully in forum meetings as
appropriate. Some, such as the Department for Culture, Media and
Sport, English Nature, English Tourism Council, the Environment
Agency and the Forestry Commission will wish to attend regularly.
Others will be invited to attend for a particular discussion or to
make a presentation.