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Julie Pörksen launches Countryside Charter to boost Northumberland's rural communities, including plans to review access to local transport

April 30, 2015 8:11 PM
Julie Pörksen launches Countryside Charter to boost Northumberland's rural communities, including plans to review access to local transport
Julie Pörksen, Lib Dem candidate for the Berwick constituency, an agricultural economist and daughter of a sheep farmer is today helping to launch the "Countryside Charter" - a package of national Liberal Democrat policy proposals to help the countryside and allow the rural economy to thrive.
The package includes plans to extend high speed broadband to 99.9% of households, continuing the 5p a litre fuel discount scheme for remote rural areas in Northumberland, planning reforms to facilitate supply of business start-up accommodation, boosting supply of rural housing, and introducing a Rural Bus Protection Fund.
The Lib Dem proposals will allow local authorities to introduce a 200% council tax rate on second homes where this has a serious impact on local housing affordability, and Julie is calling for the extra revenue raised being earmarked for spending to boost local economies at parish and town council level .
The Charter also includes plans for boosting rural tourism, including completing the round-Britain coastal path and introducing new National Nature Parks, a commitment to protect the interests of the inshore small boat fishing fleet, and more help to support local community assets such as rural pubs, schools, shops, and Post Offices.
The Charter also announces steps to secure the future of the farming industry, by boosting the powers of the Groceries Code Adjudicator so that all farmers, especially the dairy industry, are paid fairly; publishing a National Food Strategy; reducing the administrative and regulatory burden; and developing an Animal Disease Strategy to lessen the risks and costs of animal disease.​
Julie Pörksen said "I am particularly pleased that the Lib Dem Countryside Charter will review access to transport for students and apprentices in rural areas where no regular bus links are available. We know just how many young people have been hit hard by the Labour-run Northumberland county council's school transport charges, but a great many young people also face very difficult journeys to college, training programmes, or work, and I intend to make this a top issue should I be elected as Berwick's new MP.
"Representing Berwick's rural communities requires a relentless focus on the needs of the countryside and natural habitats, our farmers and fisheries, and the housing and services needed to sustain our rural villages. Having grown up in rural Northumberland I am particularly please we have set out a sustainable Liberal Democrat approach which will ensure that the needs of rural constituencies like Berwick are firmly on the agenda in the next Parliament. Its priorities are the priorities of rural communities in Northumberland and I will be championing this Charter in Parliament as Berwick's next MP.
Deputy Prime Minister and Leader of the Liberal Democrats Nick Clegg said:
"Rural areas play a large part in Britain's economy with the rural economy worth £210bn. The Liberal Democrats want to unlock this potential so rural areas and the rest of the UK can thrive.
"In order to prosper, rural areas need good local services, appropriate infrastructure and more housing.
"Only the Liberal Democrats will create a stronger economy and fairer society where everyone and every part of the UK can reach its full potential."
Notes for editors:
The Lib Dems' Countryside Charter will create over 300,000 new jobs across the country and will help to ensure people living in rural areas have access to the facilities they need to prosper.
The Charter includes measures to improve high speed internet provision in rural areas, keep local services open and secure the future of the farming industry.