Labour in rural areas

Background information

The Rural reports page contains the recommendations of the above two reports.

Michael Gove is proposing a new agriculture bill in autumn, 2018, and has completed a consultation called: "Health and Harmony: the future for food, farming, and the environment in a Green Brexit."

Is South Derbyshire a "rural" area?

That depends on what you mean by "rural".

One commonly accepted definition includes any settlement with less than 10,000 people but, to many of us, 10,000 people is a small town and by this definition everywhere in our area outside the Swadlincote conurbation is rural.

Hilton is growing rapidly yet still has the infrastructure of a village rather than a town - but is it "rural"?

The large new developments on the edge of Derby (e.g. Hackwood Farm and west of Mickleover on the A516) are in South Derbyshire but they are certainly not rural.

Many (most?) of us think of "rural" as meaning "agricultural". By this definition a large part of South Derbyshire is rural - we have lots of farms: some farmer-owned, others tenants of landowners' estates.

It would be interesting to know the profile of those of us living in South Derbyshire - outside the Swadlincote conurbation.

Our bet is that we are divided between those who:

  • travel to work in one of the larger areas: Derby, Burton, Swadlincote, Ashby and further afield.

    Hilton is probably an example of a settlement where the majority of residents work elsewhere.

  • work in local services - schools, medical centres, local shops, etc.
  • work in small business/industrial concerns in rural areas,
  • work primarily from home,
  • are retired,
  • farm,
  • have agriculture-related jobs.

If this is indeed the case then the message we need to get across will differ for each type.

We will investigate further.

Key proposals for rural areas

  • recognise that those in rural areas have different views of the world and different needs
  • ensure the needs of rural areas are taken into account in all government policy ("rural proofing")
  • scrap the unfair Council Tax and implement Land Value Tax (LVT)
  • ensure police forces are funded to handle the special needs of country areas
  • meet the special needs of social care and health care in the countryside
  • support small-scale enterprise and manufacturing to keep jobs in the countryside
  • restore local post offices each containing a branch of the Citizens' Bank
  • provide place-based investment from a Citizens' Bank
  • provide technical education to help build rural businesses
  • ensure that high speed broadband reaches all rural locations
  • restore rural bus routes lost since 2010 - fund local authorities to provide rural bus services
  • review the effects of the Beeching cuts to rural train services
  • involve local communities more in planning and development
  • produce a clear national definition of what is meant by "affordable housing" and "affordable rent"
  • enable local authorities to borrow to build social and affordable housing in rural areas
  • end the fiddles and exemptions used to avoid the provision of affordable housing in small rural developments
  • support small-scale development on disused plots of land
  • ensure building style fits local environments - no "one type fits all" development - no rabbit hutches
  • allow local authorities to impose an additional local LVT on second homes, holiday lets and Airbnb rentals
  • ensure that high quality food supply remains top priority for government
  • support those who work in the countryside, rather than for those who live off the work of others
  • end taxpayer subsidies based on land area alone
  • direct any taxpayer subsidies to those farmers who need them, not to those with most wealth
  • support small-scale, environment-friendly, sustainable farming - including marginal farming
  • support the development of technology so British farmers are competitive in a world market
  • ensure supermarkets promote British food and treat farmers fairly
  • develop a 25 year plan for the recovery of nature: wildlife, field patterns, hedgerows, woodland etc.
  • support farmers and landowners when they provide "public goods" including access
  • promote agricultural apprenticeships to improve skills

What is to be done?

Getting the message across

The reports referred to above have given us the background and the arguments. The questions now are:

  • How do we distill the arguments so we get the key points across in the most effective way?

    Leaflets are a start. These can point to other resources, such as online videos - people like videos.

  • How do we get the arguments into the hands of the rural community?

    Knocking on doors is a chore, and it complicated in isolated areas with small hamlets and farms However, "rural" includes ettlements of less than 10,000 people and we have quite a few in South Derbyshire.