Call for Treasury cash for countryside

Authorities and community groups across East Anglia have joined a national push for more cash for the countryside.

Authorities and community groups across East Anglia have joined a national push for more cash for the countryside.

They are part of a coalition of 300-service providers which today called on the Treasury to address rural deprivation in a review of national spending.

The coalition has drawn up a crisis list of problems facing rural area including lack of affordable housing, loss of shops, pubs and post offices, poor public transport, low wages and high taxation.

Thirteen East Anglian authorities and bodies belong to the two rural lobby groups that make up the coalition - SPARSE and the Rural Services Partnership.

In a submission to HM Treasury's Comprehensive Spending Review (CSR), which will conclude next year, the coalition states: "The

hard reality is that very

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many service users and residents of rural England are disadvantaged when it comes to accessing public services.

"They are further disadvantaged by having

to pay higher levels of

council tax than their urban counterparts, while receiving poorer access to services."

Clive Stockton, deputy leader of coalition member North Norfolk District Council, said: "Our coastal areas from Mundesley through to Yarmouth are hit by the double impact of coastal erosion and deprivation. This deprivation includes lack of access to transport and decent housing and the announced closure of rural post offices is another nail in the coffin."

The coalition identifies key areas of rural deprivation that need addressing as:

An acute shortage of affordable housing in rural areas, where average earnings of £17,400 only support home ownership in 28pc of the countryside.

99pc of urban households are within 4km of 11 core services, compared with as few as 25pc of countryside homes.

Rural areas have lost 400 post offices and 300 petrol stations since 2000, often with no near alternatives.

Only a third of families in rural settlements have more than one secondary school within 5km.

Providing services is inescapably more costly in the countryside - up to 90pc

more in the case of refuse collection.

Internet data speeds for those more than 1km from a telephone exchange are limited to 512kps, while up to 8Mbps is available within 1km.