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Saturday, 25 October 2014

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Play fair on services for countryside, Cumbrian MP pleads

Penrith MP Rory Stewart has called on rural areas to get help to access basic services that those in urban areas take for granted.

During a Parliamentary debate, Mr Stewart said ensuring rural areas get help with basic services those in more urban areas took for granted, such as buses, access to hospitals and school was needed – although rural areas needed to be careful they weren’t viewed as ‘victims’.

Mr Stewart said: “In Cumbria we have a magic alchemy that turns wet grass into productive protein, which we can sell around the world.

“If we get the broadband right, enterprises from rural communities can challenge the rest of the world, but that involves education, focus and confidence.”

He spoke in a Commons debate on Government support for rural economies, secured by former Countryside Alliance chief executive Simon Hart, who is now a Tory MP.

But Mr Stewart also warned against rural areas imitating cities. “One of the most dangerous things that we have been doing in Cumbria has been to pursue industrialisation policies that are entirely unsuitable for rural areas,” he said.

“We need to be sure that the economy flourishes in rural areas.

“However, that does not mean going into an area such as Penrith and The Border, where we currently have close to full employment, and building businesses for which we have no workers, shipping them in from other parts of the country, then saying we have a housing shortage and building another 400 houses, and then saying we do not have jobs for the people in those 400 houses, and building more businesses.”

Rural Affairs Minister Richard Benyon promised to deliver services fairly to ensure rural dwellers were not discriminated against.

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