Judith Bunting was part of the team proposing the motion Revitalising the Rural Economy at the Liberal Democrat Spring Conference, Brighton 2013.
Summating for the motion, Judith said: 20% of the UK population lives in 80% of the country – what does that tell me? It tells me that those people have a long way to travel to do anything – especially to go to school. We need good roads, fine public transport and modern infrastructure like mobile phone masts and broadband to be supported in rural areas by Government and by every Council that takes care of a rural constituency.
Rural communities can and should be thriving and vibrant places but in reality, that’s not always the case. Our rural communities are facing many issues from unemployment to high housing and energy prices, not to mention the dreadful conditions our farmers are fighting as I write.
The motion calls for:
- Investment in rural high-speed broadband
- Fair trade for British farmers through a more transparent market and further reform of the Common Agricultural Policy
- Investment in ‘joined up’ rural transport schemes to improve access and ensure ease of use.
- A third of bus passengers in rural areas will struggle to make essential trips if bus services are cut?
- Up to a fifth of people in rural areas still do not have broadband services of even 2 megabits per second?
- Sheep farmers, like those around Hungerford, do not enjoy the same protection as beef farmers in the assessment of their animal carcasses at abatoirs?
Judith Bunting went on to say: The Liberal Democrat Party wants to support these communities because they form a vital part of our society. As part of the Coalition Government we are already doing this through the establishment of the Grocery Code Adjudicator and ending the Council Tax discount for second homes. I want to do more to build sustainable rural communities with strong local economies where everyone can get on across West Berkshire, through investing in broadband, reforming European agricultural policies, joined-up local transport policies and creating more affordable housing. The Liberal Democrat Conference has endorsed a clear vision for the future of rural communities.
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