Prime Minister faces a revolt in the countryside

Posted on: 18th July 2011

From the Western Daily Press, July 10th 2011

“David Cameron faces a rural revolt from Coalition backbenchers after an MP accused the Prime Minister of treating the countryside as a “chocolate-box” playground for the rich.

Conservatives and Liberal Democrats have condemned the decision to abolish the Rural Advocate, who acts as an independent voice for villages across England. The post is currently held by Stuart Burgess but is due go with the abolition of the Commission for Rural Communities (CRC), of which he is also chairman, under the much-heralded “bonfire of the quangos”. Critics say it will be the first time there has not been an independent voice for the countryside since David Lloyd George was Prime Minister.

Ministers are expected to come under pressure to reverse the decision in the Commons this week when the Public Bodies Bill receives its second reading.

Cornish MP Andrew George, the chairman of the Lib Dem environment policy committee, said he hoped to persuade the Government to perform a U-turn.

“It is particularly important to protect rural communities and ensure they don’t just become an exclusive reserve of the better off,” he added.

“The big risk is that the small and weak voices tend to get ignored.

“They have the added problem of trying to persuade the powers-that-be that the superficial image of the countryside as a rather well-heeled place of rural tranquillity is not true.

“You have to punch your way through the chocolate-box image. It is that important role that I think will simply get lost if the Rural Advocate is removed.”

Read the full article here