Call made for greater focuson rural areas
Northumberland County Council is spearheading a new initiative to ensure rural areas have a voice in the UK's economic future.
The local authority, in collaboration with the Institute of Local Governance (ILG), is starting a wide-ranging conversation to help shape emerging policy at local and national levels.
Peter Jackson, council leader, said: “While cities are recognised as the economic powerhouses of the UK economy, there is often a lack of recognition of the significant contribution that rural areas make to local economies – both in their own right and in the more urban areas they envelop.
“But with the UK poised to leave the European Union and the emerging industrial strategy committing to drive growth across the whole country, there is a unique opportunity to redress the balance and showcase the value of rural areas. I have been talking to our Government to further rural development in our county and the prospect of a North of Tyne devolution deal and a Borderlands growth deal are two examples where we can ensure rural voices are heard.”
The initiative is getting under way at Hexham Mart where around 40 stakeholders, including business leaders, academics and public and third-sector representatives will meet.
Northumberland National Park chief executive Tony Gates said: “This is a timely initiative and a great opportunity for us to champion the resilience and innovative nature of our rural areas.
“It is time for us to develop a rural vision which has as much cohesive strength and impact as any city.
“Let us now focus on the positive assets of our rural areas.”
The outcomes from the event will inform a six-month policy research commission by the ILG.