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Simple, active and effective sub-groups will give rural communities a ...
Simple, active and effective sub-groups will give rural communities a

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

National Trust

Ramblers Association

Royal Society for the Protection of Animals

British Horse Society

Country Land and Business Association

British Chambers of Commerce

National Farmers Union

Countryside Alliance

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.

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