CLA / ICM POLL SHOWS MOST PEOPLE THINK GOVERNMENT COULD DO MORE FOR RURAL RECOVERY AFTER FMD

An ICM poll specially commissioned by the Country Land and Business Association for the launch of "Your Countryside, You're Welcome", found that nearly two thirds of people across Britain (62%) believe that the Government could do more to help rural communities to recover after the Foot and Mouth epidemic.

The results of the survey are timed to show the importance of the launch of the Government led "Your Countryside, You're Welcome" campaign, an initiative which is welcomed by the CLA and many other rural organisations as an essential part of the process of recovery.

The poll also concluded that over two thirds of people (68%) do not believe that the rural economy has recovered from the impact of Foot and Mouth disease, and of those living in rural areas, 30% know of a rural business that has gone under or down sized since the FMD crisis began and only 6% knew of one which had started up or expanded over the same period.

Most crucially, on the issues of rural recovery and support, there was little difference in opinion between urban and rural dwellers responding to the survey. Combined with the fact that almost everyone polled has an firm opinion, the indications are that the public's concern for the countryside remains widespread.

As part of the campaign, the CLA will be launching a special website - www.countrysidebusiness.co.uk - listing hundreds of rural businesses, region by region, including holiday cottages, for people to see what is available. However, rural businesses owners can already log onto the site and register for free advertising.

Sir Edward Greenwell, President of the CLA, said:

"The results of the CLA / ICM poll - Business in the Countryside Survey - clearly show that there is still an enormous amount of public concern and interest in the recovery of rural Britain. One of the most interesting features of the poll is that almost everyone asked had a clear opinion and that opinions did not vary significantly between urban and rural dwellers.

"This campaign comes at the end of a hard winter for many rural businesses and the importance of kick starting recovery cannot be over-estimated. The Government has provided us with the platform of the 'Your Countryside, You're Welcome' campaign and it just remains for us to convince the holidaying public that the countryside is open for business and in great need of their support.

"With Easter and other Bank Holidays pending, we hope that people will return to their favourite countryside retreats or even come out for the first time. I think everyone now understands how important the rural economy is to the national economic well-being and we are all appreciative of the support the public have shown the rural communities over the last months. It is time to look ahead, however, and a good season from now until the Autumn should help the countryside get back on its feet. Come and celebrate the British countryside this summer."