SUSANNE AUSTIN APPOINTED TO GOVERNMENT RURAL POLICY FORUM
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION
Susanne Austin is available for interview. Tel: 01865 742793
NB: Miss Austin will be on an official UK Trade Mission to Barcelona from 6-11 March.
Edward Dawson (CPRE South East Regional Director) 01252 877458
NOTES FOR EDITORS
1. The Government's Rural White Paper (Cm 4909), Our Countryside: a fair
deal for rural England was published in November 2000. It proposed the setting up of
Regional Rural Sounding Boards to bring together rural stakeholders to inform and monitor the
regional and local delivery of policy in rural areas ('Rural Proofing'). These would work in
each of the eight regions in the country. They would report to the national Board and in due
course, to a Cabinet Committee on Rural Affairs.
2. The Government has now proposed that
these sounding boards be known as Rural Affairs Forums. The Government Office for the South East
(GOSE), with other agencies, like the Countryside Agency, has formally established the South
East Rural Affairs Forum. It will be chaired by Lord Selborne, Chancellor of Southampton
University, a former President of the Royal Geographical Society and a member of the original
Rural White Paper sounding board. There will be 30 members of the Forum drawn from a wide
range of rural interests.
3. Susanne Austin founded the Cotswold
Food Group in 1999. She runs her own consultancy specialising in the promotion of niche markets
for local food and drink producers. She undertakes numerous speaking engagements around the
region, and is a regular contributor to 'Cotswold Life'. She spent most of her youth on
her grandparent's farm and is interested in links between farming and the English landscape. She
has launched the Cotswold Food and Drink Awards and was a recent a guest on the popular BBC2
cookery series 'Ready, Steady, Cook'. She also advises CPRE on rural policy matters. Miss Austin
will represent SEFS (South East Forum for Sustainability), a network of rural and environmental
interests on the Forum.
4. The England Rural Development Plan
(the so-called 'second pillar' of the CAP) will come under the Rural Forum. ERDP is a £1.6bn
(2001-2006) programme funded by the European Commission. It funds rural diversification projects;
market-based initiatives and community as well as environmental schemes, ERDP has a standing
Consultation Group, which will now become a sub-committee of the Rural Forum.
5. Some of the early issues to be
tackled by the Forum will include rural transport; achieving more sustainable transport for
rural areas by enabling accessibility whilst achieving sustainable development objectives. Waste
issues; recycling facilities; litter and fly tipping, employment and the local economy, including
tourism and skills training; local markets for farm produce and other goods; community: access to
health care and education; local facilities; post office, shops, banks; social amenities; village
halls, pubs, sports and recreation.