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Rural Communities

Volume 543: debated on Thursday 26 April 2012

11. What steps she is taking to ensure that rural communities and businesses are fully engaged with the work of her Department. (105413)

DEFRA’s new England-wide rural and farming network provides a means of two-way engagement between DEFRA Ministers and 17 rural and farming network groups representing rural communities and businesses. DEFRA Ministers are proactively seeking meetings with those groups to ensure that they are engaged with the work of the Department. DEFRA continues to invest in the rural community action network and holds regular discussions with Lord Teverson’s Rural Coalition.

I thank the Minister. Will he join me in congratulating all those involved in the successful bid from Coventry and Warwickshire for a rural growth network, and state how the Department will work with that network to improve engagement with the business community?

The cross-party board that examined the 29 applications from local economic partnerships and from some local authorities was really impressed by the rural growth network in my hon. Friend’s constituency. A credible, experienced set of partners brought it together, and it is a good network. Those partners are accustomed to delivery and believe that they will lever in £50 million of investment. That will mean jobs and technology-led industries, and I look forward to seeing how successful it will be in the coming years.