Susanne Austin

Nomination for South East Regional Rural Forum

1.      Introduction
I wish to be nominated as a member of the new South East Regional Rural Forum. This is because I believe it will play a key role in developing a coherent approach to rural policy in this region. I have a keen interest in and passion for rural issues, the countryside and country living. I am aware of regionalisation and the regional agenda. I stand with the support of CPRE South East as a member of SEFS, the environment network in the region.

2.      Personal background
My work is in the marketing and promotion of local and regional, British food and drink, diversification and added value within the rural business sector. This includes tenancies, share farming and tourism. ! founded The Cotswold Food Group, based in Oxford in 1999. Beyond this, I am concerned about the countryside, agriculture, the rural economy, sustainability and rural proofing. I come from a farming background with hands-on experience of rural life. I am incisive and tenacious, with enthusiasm, vision and drive. I also have good communications and interpersonal skills, and can claim a deep understanding of the countryside and its people. As a natural leader, my main goal is to secure a sustainable future for the rural economy.

3.      Regional policy
Regional policy has become prominent with the work of SEEDA, especially through the Regional Economic Strategy. Having studied the websites, this seemed to involve a wide public consultation. GOSE started regionalisation in 1994, and it continues to be pro-active, with the Regional Housing Statement and Social Inclusion Statement.

The third partner, the Regional Assembly, runs the Healthy Region Forum and prepared the Sustainable Development Framework. RPG9 provides an initial spatial strategy for the South East. The Assembly, having taken over the work of SERPLAN, must now integrate the RES with RPG.

4.       Key issues
Voluntary organisations have a key role to play in regional policy. Regeneration is needed in rural areas as much as in the towns. It is also a social as well as a physical issue. There is a wide range of voluntary groups, and these need to be brought together to strive for 'sustainable development', entailing economic, social and environmental progress. The Rural Forum will be in a unique position to work with partners looking at issues affecting rural life and integrating wider concerns.

5.       What do I want to achieve?
I hope to make a broad contribution to the new Regional Rural Forum, addressing many issues. I intend to consult and report back promptly. I shall have much to learn, but for me, the countryside has a bright future. It needs direction and leadership, based on the Rural White Paper and a broad achievable vision to build sustainable communities. Issues ranging from social housing to transport and the NHS, to wildlife and landscape must inform the basis of an inclusive approach.

Susanne Austin
12 Cherwell Drive, Marston, Oxford OX3 OLY
Tel: 01865 742793 e-mail:
January 2002


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Copyright Susanne Austin 2005/6