Headlines: November 2nd, 2004

Local authorities, businesses and communities have been praised for working in partnership to improve services in rural areas. Announcing publication of this year’s Rural Services Review, the rural secretary Alun Michael said individuals, communities and local authorities had come up with creative and imaginative ways to overcome barriers and to deliver services to meet government national standards.Mr. Michael said the government had set out eleven core standards for the provision of services in rural areas and the aim was to ensure equal and fair access to good quality public services for people living in rural areas. He said the services should meet the needs both of the majority of residents and those with limited mobility and low incomes.

Local projects described in the review include Delaware Community Primary School in Cornwall where parents can drop off their children at 7.45 in the morning and pick them up at 5.45 in the evening. The school also provides adult education classes for the whole community, including other schools in the area and it is open for 48 weeks a year. The review also singles out Connexions in Norfolk, which supports young people in the transition to adulthood and Wheels to work, which provides scooters for young, unemployed disadvantaged people to get to work or training through more than 50 schemes funded by local partnerships.

Among the other success stories are the Barley Mow Inn at Kirk Ireton in Derbyshire, which is one of a growing number of pubs around the country offering services such as a shop and a post office and the Worcestershire Rural Housing Enabler, which works with landowners and housing associations in consultation with the community to provide a mix of affordable housing for rent and shared ownership.