Nick Herbert launches 'Rural Action'

Arundel & South Downs MP Nick Herbert has today (7 July) launched a new agenda to spell out how a Conservative Government will offer a better deal for rural communities.

Mr Herbert, who is Shadow Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, was at the Royal Show in Warwickshire to launch ‘Rural Action', which has four key aims:

  • Respect rural people
  • Power to rural communities
  • Protect rural services
  • Revive the rural economy

Mr Herbert believes that the launch of Rural Action will herald a new start for rural communities after twelve years of a Government that has overseen the loss of 200 rural schools, 1,400 rural post offices and 384 police stations in the shires.

The plan promises to reverse Labour's centralisation, ending the years of insensitive dictat from Whitehall, and set about restoring the voice of rural areas in decision making.

Police forces will be made more accountable to local communities and the social value of local services like post offices would be realised.  Rural communities would be given the power to resist school closures, and could choose to start new village schools.  West Sussex has seen four rural primary schools closed under Labour.

Villages would be given the right to build their own affordable homes.  A Conservative Government would scrap top-down housing targets and allow councils to oppose development planned for green belt land.  It is a policy that is likely to be popular in West Sussex which has been told by the Government to build 74,600 houses over the next 20 years - an average of 3,730 a year.

Conservatives will cut tax rates for small businesses to encourage growth and protect jobs, allow councils to offer rural business rate discounts and simplify the planning system to improve accountability.  Innovative new rural transport solutions will also be piloted.

Mr Herbert commented: "Rural England has suffered a decade of disrespect under this Government.  Local services have been withdrawn, rural communities have been denied a voice, and power has been taken away from local people.

"We need a new approach to reverse the trend of centralisation and end the thoughtless dictat from Whitehall, so that rural communities and the rural way of life are respected.  We will return power and decision-making to individuals and communities, so that people have a genuine say over the matters that affect them locally.  And we will unlock the potential of the rural economy to deliver jobs from sustainable businesses of the future."

Mr Herbert added: "Rural communities are crying out to be heard.  They should no longer be ignored."



Notes for Editors

1. For the website of Rural Action visit

Christopher N Howarth