Notes of Rural England Stakeholder Group meeting – 3 December 2018

Rural England MeetingRural England Meeting 1

Notes of the Rural England Stakeholder Group Meeting

London – 3 December 2018

Present:

Margaret Clark (Chair,ex CRC); Richard Quallington (ACRE); Brian Wilson (RE);Graham Biggs (RE); David Inman (RE); Jane Hart (RE); Mark Shucksmith (NewcastleUni)

Apologies: 

Alison Mclean (ex CRC);  Steve Emery (RE); CharlesSmith (Farming Community Network); Paul Blacklock (RE, Calor); Lois Lane andTom Anderton(CPRE);Kamna Muralidharan (Big Lottery Fund); Claire Maxim and Elizabeth Clark (Germinate:Arthur Rank Centre); Sarah Palmer (NFYFC); Johm Birtwistle (First Group);Trevor Cherrett (TCPA); Sarah Lee (Countryside Alliance); Paul Hamblin(National Parks England); Charles Smith (Farming Community Network).

1. Welcome and introduction

The Chair, Margaret Clark, opened the meeting just after 1.30 p.m. and welcomed those attending. 

2.  The minutes of the joint Stakeholders and UKRPPRG meeting held on 5 November 2018 were agreed. There were no matters arising from those minutes.

3. Research. State of Rural Services Report 2018

Brian Wilson introduced a previously circulated summary paper outlining the key findings from each of the eight chapters. He suggested that perhaps future SORS reports might include more suggestions where policy action was warranted than the 2016 edition and also identify gaps in the rural evidence base. Brian undertook to circulate a draft copy of the full report to the three stakeholders present.

A number of points were raised in discussion including:

  • The need to highlight where statistics are dated (e.g. 2012 data on local buses)
  • Statistics on factors such as persistent poverty and family expenditure could help to inform future SORS
  • Some additional urban comparator statistics could be helpful e.g. regarding mobile connectivity
  • The findings indicate a need for rural research on who is affected/ what are the impacts/ what are people doing now
  • Geographical variations in policy and provision (especially in the context of health services) showed a need for local rural proofing
  • Rural access to digital connectivity could be linked to the provision of other service areas e.g. libraries and telemedicine.
  • The urban-rural gap appeared to be worse for mobile connectivity than for fixed line broadband.

The Rural England Directors are considering whether subsequent SORS should be produced less frequently, to allow more research time to explore specific rural service topics in intervening years.

4. Rural Panel and Housing Survey

David Inman explained that, whilst the rural housing survey had produced some interesting findings, the main objective had been to identify participants who would be willing to participate in a rural panel. Whilst the response to the survey, and to the question about willingness to participate in the panel, had both been good, younger people were still underrepresented. David is trying to find out how many additional young people would be needed to achieve a sufficiently age-balanced sample.

5(a). Budget Report

Graham Biggs summarised the circulated budget report and explained that part 1 essentially related to running costs whilst part 2 related to research work. He outlined the position regarding liability to Corporation Tax [CT] and the difference between sponsored research (not liable to CT) and commissioned research (profits liable to CT). The position regarding income from supporters was also explained.

5(b) Rural Vulnerability Day

The event is to be held on 11 February from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the Jubilee Room in the Houses of Parliament. That room holds about 60 people and the limited space means that it will probably not be possible to include an exhibition. The event will be used to launch the SORS report and a preliminary draft timetable for the day was described to those present. It is possible that some shared funding or sponsorship might be forthcoming and discussions are being held with NHF and Cadent.

5(c) Directors’ Report

The Rural England Directors had discussed a draft business plan for 2019/20, kindly prepared by Jo Lavis, prior to the Stakeholder Group meeting. The draft was welcomed. Arising from those discussions a few changes are likely before the plan is finalised.

Other discussions included:

  • Whether the 4 formal meetings annually of the stakeholder group is the best format. It was concluded that perhaps 2 meetings (i.e. one annual meeting for networking and the joint meeting with the UKRPPRG) plus the annual vulnerability day would possibly work better.
  • Stakeholders did not really need to receive as many reports on business management and development.
  • In the context of stakeholder roles it was noted that the most regular attendees tended to be London based and that not all stakeholders were necessarily in a position to be more actively involved. Ideally, it would be beneficial if some could participate in start and finish groups, and also if stakeholder organisations’ own future research could be planned to include a ‘rural cut’ of their findings. It was however somewhat unclear which organisations wished to remain and their level of active involvement. Graham Biggs undertook to send a questionnaire to ascertain stakeholders’ views.

6. Dates of meetings in 2019.

11 February Vulnerability Day. 11a.m.- 4 p.m. Jubilee Room, Annexe of Westminster Hall, House of Commons.

3 June Stakeholder Group meeting

November – Joint Rural England and UKRPPRG meeting. Brian Wilson will consult convenors to establish a convenient date.

Note: These dates assume switching to fewer meetings and would need to be added to if that did not happen.

The meeting ended at approximately 3.00 p.m.

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