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Tim Yeo: We oppose the use of Regional Development Agencies as delivery mechanisms for rural services

 

In response to the Rural Strategy 2004 announced today by the Secretary of State for the Environment Margaret Beckett, the Shadow Secretary of State for the Environment Tim Yeo said:

 

‘Nothing that Margaret Becket announced today will allay the fears of rural neighbourhoods about unwelcome development on nearby greenfield sites being imposed by john Prescott.

 

‘We oppose the use of Regional Development Agencies as delivery mechanisms for rural services. Most rural communities fear they are remote, bureaucratic, unaccountable and urban focused.’

 

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For further information please call Tara Hamilton-Miller on 0207 984 8092 or 07931 571 769

 

Responding to the Secretary of State for DEFRA's statement today on the Government's Rural Strategy 2004, the Shadow Secretary of State for Transport and the Environment, Tim Yeo MP, welcomed the proposal to

streamline the rural delivery agencies and to reduce funding streams from over 100 to 3, in response to the Haskins Report.

 

However, he accused the Government of failing to mainstream countryside concerns and wasting vital parliamentary time on hunting, whilst failing to address key problems of health, education, access to local services and transport, crime, planning, affordable housing, falling incomes and unemployment, and the 30% increase in rural homelessness. He also dismissed the Government's increasing reliance upon Regional Development Agencies as a waste of resources and bureaucracy, when local councils could deliver more and were closer and more accountable to people.

 

"The countryside suffers from higher taxes and unequal spending, increasing homelessness, the closure of local schools, post offices, doctors surgeries and police stations, and increasing fly-tipping. Rural crime costs farmers

£100 million a year yet 98% of parishes have no permanently staffed police station, and fly-tipping still remains an offence against communities and the landscape that is not arrestable. 6 rural pubs are closing every week, causing a loss of vital community lifelines and business.

 

"Labour's centralising regime driven by its urban politicians has failed to allow rural communities to flourish under their own decisions. People who live and work in rural areas are best placed to make decisions about what is

best for them, for their local environment and their local wildlife. Localism driving economic growth and political/social participation is the key to empowering sustainable rural communities."