The Government’s decision to scrap the Commission for Rural Communities (CRC)has been welcomed by certain rural groups on the grounds that it was an ineffective body set up by the former Labour Government as a foil for its unpopular rural policy. Tim Bonner, from the Countryside Alliance (CA), said: “We welcomed the concept of the CRC when it first came in, but it became clear very early on that it has been created as a fairly toothless body. It was put there as a barrier really between a Government that was doing some fairly unpopular things as far as rural people were concerned and that’s not a healthy thing.”

The decision was justified as a necessary cost-cutting move. Disbanding the CRC will save £3.5million per year and environment secretary Caroline Spelman claimed that rural dwellers will have a stronger voice when the CRC is brought into DEFRA. The CA shares this view. Tim Bonner added: “Now we have a situation where there are ministers in DEFRA who are a lot closer to rural issues than many of those we’ve had over the past 13 years and the role of the CRC is obviously less urgent.”

Harry Cotterell, deputy president of the Country Land & Business Association (CLA)also suggested that the new arrangement would benefit the countryside. He said: “Rural policy will now be made by ministers, which I suspect has to be a good thing. This coalition has significantly more rural experience than its predecessor and hopefully the ministers in DEFRA and also rural backbench MPs will be much more in tune with the rural economies.”

The rest of this article appears in 14th July issue of Shooting Times.

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