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Rural Areas: Community Development

Volume 486: debated on Monday 19 January 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what plans he has for further review of the effects of the policies set out in the Rural White Paper on rural communities. (248208)

The Rural White Paper 2000 set out a vision of a living, working, vibrant and protected countryside in which people had fair and equitable access to the jobs and services they require. That vision is underpinned by the Rural Strategy 2004, and continues to be reflected in the Government's mainstream policies as they affect rural areas. The Government established the Commission for Rural Communities in 2005 to monitor and advise on the impact of its policies on rural areas, and currently has no plans to carry out any separate review.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps have been taken by (a) his Department and (b) the Commission for Rural Communities to measure (i) community involvement and (ii) community activity in rural areas. (248210)

The Government are committed to supporting community involvement and activity in all areas, including rural ones, and is seeking to promote this through the initiatives announced in the Community Empowerment White Paper. DEFRA does not measure levels of community engagement, but the Department for Communities and Local Government has a range of mechanisms for this.

In addition, the Commission for Rural Communities has undertaken a number of activities in relation to community engagement, including a participation inquiry which looked at the role of local councillors as democratic champions acting on behalf of their communities.