News in Brief 1 August 2016

The latest edition of our regular News in Brief, with news, views, consultations and policy developments of interest to rural communities in our region.

Brexit

The National Farmers Union and industry body British Summer Fruits are warning that restrictions on freedom of movement will be “a total disaster” for businesses growing quintessentially British crops such as strawberries and cucumbers, which rely heavily on migrant workers. The NFU is seeking an emergency meeting with the Government to address the issue. | Guardian, 20 July.

Housing sector organisations such as the National Housing Federation are calling on the Government to divert funding intended for home-ownership schemes to support the building of new social and affordable rented housing instead as they warn that the EU referendum campaign has caused uncertainty in the construction industry, a situation worsened by the result.| BBC News, 20 July.

Housing and Planning

A new report concludes that the impacts of Neighbourhood Planning have been “mixed”. Read more elsewhere on our website.

New Government estimates suggest that more than five million new homes will be needed in England over the next 25 years to cope with changes in lifestyle, immigration and an ageing population. Daily Telegraph, 12 July.

The Rural Housing Alliance (RHA) has launched a new website. The RHA is a group of housing associations working in rural areas of England. It works alongside the Rural Services Network and the National Housing Federation to advocate the need for affordable housing in rural areas and to share best practice. The new website will promote the RHA’s work and feature case studies, a membership directory and more. | Rural Housing Alliance website.

Transport

A new website is due to be launched in 2017 that will promote the country’s Community Railways, such as the Esk Valley Line in North Yorkshire. The new website, which has received £75,000 of Government funding, will be a platform for heritage, scenic and community railways to promote themselves to new audiences. | RSNOnline, 26 May.

Broadband / Communications

Calls are being made to ensure that the Government’s Digital Economy Bill, which would put into law a pledge to give all households the right to fast broadband by 2020, also addresses rural mobile phone coverage. The Country Land and Business Association have said that there is little evidence that an informal deal to guarantee mobile coverage for 90% of the UK geographically is having any impact, and say that it is time for this to be included in the Bill alongside the broadband commitment. | RSNOnline, 11 July.

Society

A new agreement between National Parks England and the Home Office means that communities in National Parks will benefit from the new emergency services mobile communication network, which is due to be in use by 2019 and is aimed at improving communications for police, ambulances, fire, rescue and other emergency services. The new agreement will help ensure that new infrastructure required will be installed with minimal adverse environmental impact. RSNOnline, 6 June.

Economy

Market towns and villages are being urged to enter the third annual Great British High Street competition, a Government initiative to encourage and celebrate the role of high streets at the centre of their communities. Last year’s competition saw 230 entrants and over 200,000 public votes. Nominations should be received by Friday 9 September. | The Great British High Street website.

The House of Commons Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Select Committee has launched an inquiry into the role of tourism in support rural economic growth and how it can be supported. The Committee is concerned that while overall tourism spending in England is up in recent years, the share of this spent in rural communities is falling. The enquiry will look at subjects such as the role of official Tourism Agencies and marketing; coast and countryside access; public funding; planning; infrastructure; and the role of Government. Submissions are welcome from all interested parties by Tuesday 6 September. | Rural Tourism in England Inquiry website.

Agriculture

The Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board has reported that one in ten dairy farms, a total of 1,022, have closed in England and Wales since June 2013. The closures are largely blamed on farmers being paid on average 10p per litre less than the cost of producing milk. BBC News, 12 July.

Charity Governance

A House of Commons Select Committee on Charities has published a call for evidence to inform its Inquiry into the sustainability of the charitable sector. The inquiry will look at subjects including the role of charity Trustees, how local and national government should support the charity sector, and the role of the Charity Commission. Evidence from all interested parties, including charitable organisations large and small, is welcome and should be submitted by Monday 5 September 2016. | Inquiry website.

Politics and Government

New Prime Minister Theresa May has announced her new Cabinet in full. The Communities and Local Government Secretary is Sajid Javid, formerly Business Secretary. Gavin Barwell has been made Minister for Housing and Planning; it is his first ministerial post. The new Environment Secretary is Andrea Leadson, formerly a Minister in the Treasury and one of May’s rivals for the Conservative Party leadership. | Full list of Ministerial appointments.

Other consultations

The 27th Quarterly Confidence Survey of voluntary sector organisations in Yorkshire and the Humber is now open. The survey is run by North Yorkshire and York Forum but is open to voluntary organisations across the whole of Yorkshire and the Humber. The findings help build evidence about the voluntary and community sector in our region and form an important part of conversations with various national and regional agencies. The deadline is Tuesday 23 August. Visit the NYYF website for more information.