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The first rural proofing report to monitor and report on the ...
The first rural proofing report to monitor and report on the

government's commitment in the Rural White Paper1 to 'think rural'

when developing mainstream national policies and programme delivery

is published today by the Countryside Agency, the

government's countryside advisers.

Launching the report, Countryside Agency chairman and rural advocate

Ewen Cameron said:

'It was a bold move by the government to commit itself to rural proof

its own policy making. In our first annual report on how well it is

doing in putting the needs of the countryside at the heart of

Whitehall, most departments have put the basic building blocks in

place for rural proofing, and half are doing more. If rural proofing

is to be a systematic part of policy making, as promised in the rural

white paper, all departments should aspire to the standards of the


'We know it can be done. The Sure Start initiative for under-fours

has shown promising results. But, I am convinced that policy makers

generally need to do more to give sufficient thought to the impact on

the countryside, and the people who live there. This does not mean

they need to develop specific policies for rural areas. It means

ensuring that mainstream policies for health, education, crime,

transport and the rest are designed to meet the needs of rural people

as much as those of urban dwellers. I have seen little sign of a

fundamental shift in departmental policies. Some important parts of

government, such as those dealing with social exclusion, have a long

way to go before they can convince me that they are fully reflecting

the needs of rural people.

'More than one in five people live in rural England. On my visits

around the country, people tell me they are worried about the lack of

affordable housing, continuing post office closures, problems

accessing the doctor or dentist, difficulties with public transport,

bureaucratic red tape faced by rural entrepreneurs and communities,

and magistrates' courts closures.

'Dealing with the impact of foot and mouth was, understandably, a top

priority during the last year. If real results are to be achieved in

future, rural proofing must become automatic. Only then we shall

start to see outcomes in the shape of service delivery that meets the

needs of rural people.'

Mr Cameron urged policy makers to ensure rural proofing becomes

routine and much more effective in the coming year. 'I want to see

tangible outcomes and benefits to rural people.'

He outlined priorities for rural proofing by policy makers in the

months ahead, such as:

- securing clear rural targets and priorities from the government's

2002 Spending Review;

- a local authority funding system which, as a result of the current

review, reflects the particular needs and costs of delivering basic

services in rural areas;

- the proposed reforms to the planning system delivering more

affordable housing in rural areas;

- the roll-out of policies for broadband ICT reaching rural

businesses and people

Rural Proofing in 2001/02 - A report to government by the Countryside

Agency is available hereor free (ref CA107) from Countryside Agency Publications, P.O. Box 125, Wetherby, West Yorkshire LS23 7EP Tel: 0870 120 6466.


1 The commitment in the Government's Rural White Paper 'Our

Countryside: The Future - A fair deal for rural England' (DETR &

MAFF 2000) to 'think rural' when developing its policies and

programmes, marked a decisive break with the past. It made clear

that policy makers in central government should identify the impact

of their proposals on rural areas and, where relevant, adjust their

policy or adopt specific measures to address any issues arising

from them. In the interests of independence and transparency, the

Countryside Agency was asked by government to monitor and report

annually on the rural aspects of the government's policies and

especially on its 'rural proofing'. Rural Proofing in 2001/02 is

the first report published by the Countryside Agency and, as such,

provides a benchmark, establishing the starting point, as well as

recording early progress.

Ewen Cameron, chairman of the Countryside Agency since April 1999,

was appointed rural advocate by the government in November 2000 to

argue the case on countryside issues and for rural people at the

highest levels in government and outside.

The Countryside Agency is responsible for advising government and

taking action on the social, economic and environmental well-being of

the English countryside

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