CLA welcomes recognition of rural broadband neglect
Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman's recognition that rural communities have been neglected in terms of broadband and other factors has been welcomed by the Country Land and Business Association (CLA).
The politician wrote a column for the Daily Telegraph, published yesterday (January 4th 2012), in which she argued that rural areas have been "left on their own" to find solutions to issues such as poor broadband connectivity and high unemployment.
"That is unacceptable and we must make sure that they are not left behind," she remarked.
Responding to Ms Spelman's comments, CLA president Harry Cotterell said the campaign group has been raising awareness of rural neglect for years and is therefore heartened to see the problem acknowledged by a government minister.
Mr Cotterell claimed the £165 million package of measures designed to close the gap between urban and rural communities announced by Chancellor George Osborne in the Autumn Statement was a "good start", but warned more still needs to be done.
A commitment to providing universal access to fast broadband throughout the countryside is needed if rural businesses are to compete with their inner-city counterparts, the CLA chief stated, along with other changes such as the creation of more affordable housing and the axing of empty property business rates.
In the column, Ms Spelman also unveiled plans for the creation of 14 rural and farming networks designed to give business and community leaders in remote and isolated locations a hotline to the heart of government.
Mr Cotterell was positive about this announcement, stating openness is an important facet of government and that the CLA is looking forward to seeing what can be achieved by the networks.
"It is vital that with issues such as Common Agricultural Policy reform the government not only listens to what land managers have to say but also puts its full weight behind the needs of farming," he added.
- Country Land and Business Association (CLA)
- Caroline Spelman, Secretary of State for the Department of Environment, Food & Rural Affairs