Political hopefuls urged to back bid to unleash untapped potential of East Anglia's rural communities
PUBLISHED: 16:19 12 November 2019 | UPDATED: 16:28 12 November 2019
Politicians are being urged to back a new bid to close the productivity gap between town and country and unleash rural communities' "great potential" as we head towards the general election in December.
The new East Anglian boss at landowners' lobby group the Country Land and Business Association (CLA) is calling on constituency hopefuls from all political parties to back its Rural Powerhouse plans.
CLA East regional director Cath Crowther said the rural economy had "immense potential for economic growth and job creation", but needed the right policies to unleash it.
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"It is 16% less productive than its urban counterpart, but realising this untapped potential could grow the rural economy by billions of pounds each year," she said.
The CLA is writing to candidates across England and Wales asking them to pledge support for the Rural Powerhouse, which calls for a fully connected countryside, planning reform, profitable and sustainable farming, investment in skills and innovation and a simpler tax regime.
The campaign, which is being launched in advance of the CLA's annual Rural Business Conference in London on November 28, is a "new approach" by the CLA.
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"At a time when political tensions are high, we are standing up proudly to say that we believe in the potential of the rural economy, and we are here to champion it," she said.
"The Rural Powerhouse campaign is rooted in the belief that the countryside has an exciting future and we all have a role in shaping it. Any future MP worth their salt should proudly back the campaign."
Political candidates who support the campaign will receive regular briefings and campaign materials throughout the election period, and beyond.
"We want to build productive relationships with MPs from all parties," said Ms Crowther. "When supporters of the Rural Powerhouse enter parliament in December, we will be there to help them do their jobs - whether that's working closely with them so that they understand the needs of rural communities, or ensuring they are ready to champion our policy campaigns in the heart of Westminster.
"They should know, as we do, that the countryside can provide answers to so many of the issues that concern ordinary people - from climate change and the environment to the housing crisis."