Margaret Beckett's performance
at the Labour Party conference last week was a bitter disappointment to
rural dwellers who believe she is not doing anything to earn her title of
Rural Affairs Secretary. In a series continuing throughout this week, the
WMN will outline the issues the Minister should be
As average incomes continue to fall
year on year, many farmers in Britain are pessimistic about the future and
are seeking to leave the industry when they can. Embattled dairy farmers
form just one sector of the industry and they are desperately trying to
raise their paltry returns for milk.
villages, the local post office, shop and garage are lifelines. Cut off
from cities and towns, rural residents rely on their local amenities to
survive. And yet post offices and garages continue to close in the
countryside at an alarming rate, disrupting everyday life and causing
villagers to feel ever-more isolated.
A lack of
affordable housing, thought by many to be compounded by a growing number
of countryside second homes and holiday homes, means that young couples in
rural areas are finding it increasingly difficult to make their first
steps onto the housing ladder. House prices continue to climb, while South
West workers remain among the poorest paid in the
Funding, or more accurately, under-funding,
is at the root of various infrastructural problems in the Westcountry.
Headteachers and school governors have invited Prime Minister Tony Blair
to visit the region to see the effects of under-funding on South West
schools. Each school child in Devon is worth £195 less a year than the
national average, they say.
transport and a lack of investment in roads has caused untold misery for
secluded or congested communities. The people of Dobwalls in Cornwall,
have campaigned for decades for a bypass past their village, which becomes
gridlocked with tourist traffic in the