I was delighted last week to be invited to dinner with the Government’s Rural Advocate, Dr Rev Stuart Burgess CBE, and his team of Rural Commissioners. The Commission for Rural Communities arranged a visit to Kent so they could spend a day visiting some of our exemplar projects, and dinner the night before was an excellent opportunity for us to explain some of the local issues.
I found both Stuart Burgess, and his team of Commissioners to be accessible, intelligent and interested in what we had to say. We spoke about the nonsensical planning legislation which prevented growth of successful small rural business; about the lamentable lack of broadband in rural areas which stifled home working.
I talked about the Community Shop initiative in Kent, about how KCC’s TeleHealth project could bring peace of mind to elderly and vulnerable residents living in remote rural areas; and how we should be using the network of village halls across Kent to bring a Credit Union – and numerous other public services – to our hard to reach areas.
It was a really productive evening, and I understand that the following day the Rural Advocate’s team were hugely impressed by our officers and our projects. Let’s hope we can maintain closer links on rural issues.