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Liberal Democrat Action Plan for rural areas

November 19, 2008 5:55 PM
on the farm

Liberal Democrats want real action taken to support our rural areas

Government house building targets should be scrapped and communities encouraged to buy locally to help rural Leicestershire survive the recession, say local Liberal Democrats.

The plans, set out by Leader Nick Clegg on Friday have the backing of Liberal Democrats in Hinckley and Bosworth.

The plans include;

Empowering local authorities to build more social housing and scrapping national targets to tackle the rural housing crisis

Fulfilling the economic potential of rural areas by encouraging communities to support local produce.

Work with the CBI and small business representatives to replicate the 'Little Red Tractor' scheme for non-food products. A Union Flag logo on goods manufactured in the UK would help provide consumers with the information they need to make informed choices.

Speaking about the plans at a meeting of local Liberal Democrat members, Liberal Democrat parliamentary spokesman for Bosworth Michael Mullaney said "Instead of Whitehall deciding how many homes should be built in the region the decisions should be made locally, where people are better placed to know where homes are most needed, to tackle the rural housing crisis.

"Regional housing targets are widely felt to be an inadequate mechanism for delivering the appropriate numbers, mix or dispersal of housing. The Liberal Democrats are proposing the suspension of the current housing targets and their replacement with sub-regional targets.

"Local Authorities should be empowered to set local targets based on local needs assessments and consultation with local communities. Local Authorities could either work alone where appropriate, based on capacity and the size of the area, or in clusters as part of multi-area agreements or existing sub-regional partnerships."

He also called for people to buy local goods to support rural businesses through the recession. "Consumers should be proud to 'Buy Local' goods, particularly at a time of recession.

"The idea of food miles, and the benefits of sourcing food locally, has become well-known over the last couple of years. Work by farmers, chefs, market owners and organisations like British Food Fortnight have successfully promoted the ethos of 'Buy British' and 'Buy Local' within the food sector, promoting the quality of British produce as well as the environmental, social and economic benefits of supporting local and national industry.

"However, we do want to ensure consumers are able to make informed decisions and be able to choose local and British products when they want to. Additional consumer demand for local manufacture would give a competitive edge to UK producers currently threatened by price-only comparison with rivals in the Far East."