1. Margaret Clark confirmed as Chair for the coming year
The acting Chair, Alison McLean, opened the meeting at 1.30 p.m. and welcomed those present. She explained that Margaret Clark had agreed to take over as Chair but unfortunately she was unable to attend on this occasion.
Alison was thanked for all she had done during her years in the Chair.
Those present then gave brief introductions of themselves.
2. Richard Quallington was elected as Vice Chair.
(a) The notes of the previous meeting were agreed.
(b) Matters arising from the minutes:
David Inman informed the group that he was still awaiting a response from Defra in relation to the requested endorsement of Rural England. He was pressing again currently.
It was confirmed that ‘The snapshot of Rural England’ is nearly complete.
4. Updates from Directors on activities undertaken
The group was informed that the Prince’s Countryside Fund had been unable to supply Rural England with a Director from their ranks but that Mike Perry from the Plunkett Foundation had recently joined the Directors.
Jane Hart briefly outlined the publicity that had been given to the 2015/2016 research on vulnerability as affecting older rural residents.
With regard to the new research topic, Social Care had received the majority of votes and work had commenced on gathering background information. In order to keep the topic bounded, the new research will focus on social care within private homes, rather than within a residential care setting, but will include initiatives to improve wellbeing and address isolation. It is hoped to look in detail at four contrasting rural areas.
Andy Dean advised that a paper had been prepared clarifying the relationship between Rural England and the Rural Services Network and promised to make it available to stakeholders. That paper can be accessed at: https://ruralengland.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/RE-RSN-relationship-note-FINAL.pdf
The Group was told that the State of Rural Services research had been completed and would be launched in January. Offers of help with publicity were much appreciated. The date and timing of the launch will be provided in advance together a short summary of key points to assist media departments.
6. Rural Panel Update report
David Inman reported on a proposal to create a rural panel with a statistically valid cross section of participants. Subject to the agreement of the Rural England Directors (subsequently given) CCRI at the University of Gloucestershire will undertake the work.
7. Stakeholders Group
Tim Jones from South West LEPS and Alison Woudhuysen from the Child Poverty Action Group have been invited to join the stakeholders group.
8. Supporter Group
David Inman outlined anticipated emphasis during the next twelve months on Broadband Providers, Land Agents and significant Land Owners across England.
Graham Biggs updated the group on the overall budget position and referred to the approved Company accounts to 31 March 2016. He explained the requirements on budget presentation on a CIC which required the Budget to be set out in a revised format.
10. Rural England Website
David Inman advised that he was keen to ensure that the Rural England website is increasingly seen as a good place to look for rural research. A number of examples, including those from the TCPA, CCRI, CLA and Newcastle University were mentioned in discussion. Group members are asked to forward links to relevant research to Jane Hart at firstname.lastname@example.org for inclusion on the Rural England website
11. Other matters
There was a discussion about Defra’s current rural activities and issues relating to Brexit. Concern was expressed about the need to keep policy on economies, communities and agriculture joined-up, and uncertainties regarding the commitment to funding smaller rural schools.
The Prince’s Countryside Fund have a Forum day on 6 December. http://www.princescountrysidefund.org.uk/events/the-forum
The next meeting is one where there will be presentations from across the Home Countries
12. Dates of next meetings
The next meeting, with UKRPPRG, will be held on 5th December at the Soroptomists Club, 63 Bayswater Rd, London W2 3PH.
Agreed dates for next year:
6th February 2107
5th June 2017
6th November 2017
4th December 2017 (UKRPPRG and RE)