Ru­ral busi­ness ready for Brexit chal­lenge

Thriv­ing sec­tor must not be over­looked, says CLA

Western Morning News - - Front Page - BY ATHWENNA IRONS

A strong ru­ral econ­omy must not be over­looked by pol­icy mak­ers as plans are drawn up for post-Brexit Bri­tain.

The CLA (Coun­try Land and Busi­ness As­so­ci­a­tion) made the call to Govern­ment when launch­ing the En­ter­pris­ing Coun­try­side Char­ter at its Ru­ral Busi­ness Con­fer­ence yes­ter­day.

Com­mit­ment to the Char­ter would cre­ate a more pos­i­tive en­vi­ron­ment for busi­nesses and give them con­fi­dence, the or­gan­i­sa­tion said.

CLA pres­i­dent Tim Breit- meyer said that Bri­tain’s “thriv­ing en­tre­pre­neur­ial and cre­ative” ru­ral busi­ness sec­tor is “up for the chal­lenge”.

A strong ru­ral econ­omy, with the abil­ity to adapt and the con­fi­dence to flour­ish, must not be over­looked by pol­icy mak­ers as plans are drawn up for postBrexit Bri­tain.

The CLA (Coun­try Land and Busi­ness As­so­ci­a­tion) made the call to Govern­ment when launch­ing the En­ter­pris­ing Coun­try­side Char­ter at its Ru­ral Busi­ness Con­fer­ence yes­ter­day.

Com­mit­ment to the Char­ter, com­prised of five poli­cies key to ru­ral busi­ness growth, would cre­ate a more pos­i­tive en­vi­ron­ment for busi­nesses and give them the con­fi­dence to make new in­vest­ments, the or­gan­i­sa­tion adds.

CLA pres­i­dent Tim Bre­it­meyer said Bri­tain’s “thriv­ing en­tre­pre­neur­ial and cre­ative” ru­ral busi­ness sec­tor is “up for the chal­lenge” and ready to make the most of new op­por­tu­ni­ties. He went on: “With Brexit fast ap­proach­ing and the new Agri­cul­ture Bill go­ing through Par­lia­ment, those of us liv­ing and work­ing in the coun­try­side should be ready for rapid and sig­nif­i­cant change.”

Ru­ral busi­nesses cur­rently in­vest around £13 bil­lion each year in a range of en­ter­prises, added Mr Bre­it­meyer, such as gen­er­at­ing re­new­able en­ergy, new tech­nolo­gies and start-ups like on-farm restau­rants. He con­tin­ued: “This busi­ness in­vest­ment is cru­cial for lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties, cre­at­ing new ru­ral jobs, food pro­duc­tion and the en­vi­ron­ment, and Govern­ment must not over­look it as plans are drawn up for postBrexit Bri­tain.”

The CLA’s En­ter­pris­ing Coun­try­side Char­ter is made up of the fol­low­ing poli­cies:

Ru­ral Roam­ing be­tween net­works for bet­ter 4G mobile cov­er­age in the coun­try­side.

New Ru­ral En­ter­prise Frame­works for bet­ter busi­ness growth sup­port lo­cally.

Use of Ru­ral En­ter­prise Plans to im­prove con­sis­tency in the plan­ning sys­tem. Bring­ing in the cur­rent out­dated cri­te­ria for a “sus­tain­able vil­lage” into the 21st cen­tury.

Ex­tend­ing the re­mit of the min­is­ter with re­spon­si­bil­ity for ru­ral busi­ness across De­fra and De­part­ment for Busi­ness, En­ergy and In­dus­trial Strat­egy.

The CLA’s call to arms is un­der­lined by the re­sults of a new sur­vey, which found the ma­jor­ity of 1,600 farm­ers, land and ru­ral busi­ness owners sur­veyed plan to in­vest in busi­ness growth in the next five years.

How­ever, many said they felt lim­ited by ma­jor bar­ri­ers such as lack of broad­band and mobile cov­er­age, com­plex­i­ties of lo­cal plan­ning pol­icy and un­cer­tainty about Brexit.

Mr Bre­it­meyer con­cluded: “By com­mit­ting to the En­ter­pris­ing Coun­try­side Char­ter, Govern­ment can cre­ate a more pos­i­tive en­vi­ron­ment for ru­ral busi­nesses giv­ing them the con­fi­dence to make the new in­vest­ments needed for a strong ru­ral econ­omy as we adapt to life out­side the EU.”

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