Comment on Countryside Alliance's ten point agenda
Government comments on Countryside Alliance's ten point agenda
Rural Affairs Minister, Alun Michael, has commented on the Countryside Alliance's ten-point agenda saying the document raises ten issues which are very clearly at the heart of government policies and priorities. Mr Michael called on the Alliance to work with Ministers and other organisations to help rural communities and to avoid creating divisions in the countryside.
The Minister for Rural Affairs said:
"Earlier this year we established the Rural Affairs Forum, on which the Countryside Alliance has a seat. Indeed the Alliance welcomed its establishment and has been given the opportunity to be involved in several of the active working groups. I urge them to help us make it a success rather than diverting energy into yet another new organisation."
Mr Michael added that the Alliance has also had a seat at the table for the public hearings of expert evidence on hunting with dogs, which they and the two other umbrella groups, the Campaign for the Hunted Animal and the Middle Way Group, helped to devise. The Minister said:
"I can certainly tell them that my conclusions will be based on what we heard - on the evidence and the principles clearly set out in my statement to the House of 21 March."
Mr Michael said that the government is already taking a lead on 'all other issues' set out on the Alliance's agenda for action. On the topic of adding a further body for consultation on rural issues, the Minister said the proposal would entail 'further bureaucracy', and would 'surely delay the good progress we are making'.
The Minister said:
"The government will make a formal response to the Alliance's statement shortly, but it must be understood that we seek to govern for the whole country and for every community."
"I appeal to those who want to promote the interests of rural communities to recognise the needs and problems faced by urban communities and not to give credence to the misconception of an urban rural divide. In reality they are interdependent - we need each other."