News in Brief 26 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

New Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond has confirmed that EU-funded projects will continue to be funded by the UK Government after Britain leaves the EU. The statement secures the immediate post-Brexit future of economic and community support funds such as LEADER, as well the hugely significant agricultural subsidies currently provided by the EU Common Agricultural Policy. All structural and investment funds that are in place before this year’s Autumn Statement will be protected, and any funding arrangements made after the Autumn Statement will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis. | RSNOnline News, 16 August | Government news story, 13 August

Housing and Planning

The Yorkshire Greenspace Alliance, a group established to campaign to protect green spaces in the county, has been relaunched. The group will be drawing up a new constitution and electing a new committee. Its initial focus will be to work on representing community concerns about loss of green space in the Leeds and Bradford areas as the local councils develop their Local Plans, which allocate space for housing, industrial and other development. Read more on the WARD website.

Transport

The Government has announced the shortlist of five options for the route of a new transpennine road tunnel planned to connect Manchester and Sheffield. The options are presented in a new study which claims that the tunnel could cut journey times between the cities by almost half, boost their respective economies and reduce traffic in the Peak District National Park. Government website news story, 18 August.

Broadband / Communications

The Local Government Association has claimed that current rules on broadband advertising are misleading to customers in rural areas. Advertising regulations allow a broadband provider to advertise their service as providing a certain speed if at least 10% of their customers can actually access this speed. The LGA says this means that the majority of customers, including most households in rural areas where broadband connections are usually slower, don’t get the true picture. The LGA says that advertisers should be required to advertise on the basis of the average download speeds their customers can access.| RSNOnline News, 16 August.

Society

The latest findings from rural insurer NFU Mutual’s annual survey of rural crime show that the cost of rural crime in 2015 was £42.5m. This was a slight increase on the 2014 figure, but still below the 2013 sum of £44.5m.

The deadline to submit evidence to the House of Lords inquiry into the impact of the 2003 Licensing Act is approaching soon. The inquiry will look at how the Act, which deregulated licensing hours and brought in 24-hour drinking for the first time, has impacted on the drinks industry and the communities in which it operates. Anyone affected by the Act is welcome to submit their evidence by Friday 2 September 2016. | House of Lords Licensing Act Select Committee website.

Economy

Selby District Council has published its draft Economic Development Strategy and is seeking views on the document in a consultation exercise. The Strategy, which covers plans for the next four years and beyond, lays out how the area can benefit from developing the night-time economy and tourism sector as well as by investing in agricultural technology and the renewable energy industry. Consultation on the Strategy is open until Wednesday 28 September 2016. | York Press article, 21 August | Selby District Council Economic Development Strategy Consultation page

Agriculture

A new report from the Campaign to Protect Rural England has been published which calls on Government to use the opportunity presented by Brexit to alter how agricultural subsidies and the planning system work in order to favour more small-scale farms. The CPRE says that incentives to break up large land-holdings and planning changes that promote smallholdings could make the UK agriculture industry more diverse, providing benefits in terms of food security as well as environmental and economic advantages. Planning Portal, 25 August.

Charity Governance and News

The North Yorkshire and York Forum run a quarterly survey to inform them about how the voluntary sector in the county is operating. All voluntary and community organisations of any size are welcome to have their say. The results inform the Forum’s work, are used to influence politicians and other key players, and to generate media coverage. The deadline for the current survey has been extended to Wednesday 7 September 2016. | Voluntary Sector Confidence Survey.

Politics, Government and campaigns

The European Rural Parliament has announced that it has secured a €150,000 grant from the European Commission to organise next year’s event. The Parliament is an annual gathering of key players in rural policy and activity from across the continent to discuss developments in European policy and politics that affect rural communities, and to develop ideas about how strengthen rural economies and communities. The third Parliament will take place in October 2017 at a venue to be announced in due course. | European Rural Parliament website.