Ainsworth: Urban Labour is failing the countryside

Commenting on the Countryside Agencys report highlighting the Governments failure to assess the rural impact of its policies, as pledged in its Rural White Paper of November 2000, the Shadow DEFRA Secretary of State, Peter Ainsworth MP, said:

Over two years on from the much-vaunted Rural White Paper, it seems that most Government departments have still not got the message. The countryside is in crisis and joined-up thinking is urgently needed to support it.

The fact that DEFRA itself has made such lamentable progress towards meeting the commitments of the white paper is depressing, but tells its own story. If the lead department fails to provide a lead, why should other departments bother?

This report is a rare and welcome example of independence within the machinery of Government. The fact that it is largely a chronicle of humiliating failures will come as no surprise to people who live and work in rural areas.

This report states in black and white what rural communities have known for years: the Government has no understanding of the problems facing the countryside and no apparent desire to find out about them.

ENDS

For further information contact Mark Leech on 020 7984 8067